What is critical appraisal?
It is about systematically evaluating the evidence for accuracy, relevance and validity; eliminating research that isn’t relevant or robust enough for the question you are asking
Why is it important?
Much of the research, although methodologically valid, will not be clinically relevant and valid for your research purposes.
How do you critically appraise an article?
In addition to asking questions about author credentials, the journal publication and the date, there are some very useful tools to help you establish the relevance, accuracy and validity of the research.
CASP-UK has eight checklists of questions designed to quickly evaluate your chosen article including:
Case Control Study
Clinical Prediction Rule
Please note: CASP documents will not work on older browsers so please use Google Chrome, Firefox or IE11
CEBM has tools for evaluating RCTs, systematic reviews and diagnostics. It also contains calculators for checking statistics, the all-purpose 2×2 table, probabilities and confidence intervals
Cochrane Library Journal Club regularly discusses newly published articles. Sign up for alerts, join the discussion or view podcast transcripts
Useful books in the library include:
Bootland, D et al. Critical appraisal from papers to patients: a practical guide. CRC Press. 2017
Gosall N K & Gosall G S. The doctor’s guide to critical appraisal. 3rd ed. 2012. Knutsford: PasTest
Greenhalgh T. How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine. 6th ed. 2019. John Wiley
Issa M. Critical appraisal made easy: evidence based medicine. 2018 PBG Group
ClinicalKey has several books with chapters on Critical appraisal and evaluating the statistics.
Lee W & Hotopf M. Critical appraisal: reviewing scientific evidence and reading academic papers. In Wright P, Stern J & Phelan M. (eds.) Core psychiatry. 3rd ed. 2012 Elsevier
McCrindle B W. Description and analysis of data, and critical appraisal of the literature. In Price G (ed.) Paediatric cardiology. 3rd ed. 2010 by Churchill Livingston, an imprint of Elsevier