What is Critical Appraisal?
Critical appraisal is the process of carefully and systematically examining research to judge its trustworthiness, and its value and relevance in a particular context. It is an essential skill for evidence-based medicine because it allows clinicians to find and use research evidence reliably and efficiently.
If healthcare professionals and patients are going to make the best decisions they need to be able to:
- Decide whether studies have been undertaken in a way that makes their findings reliable
- Make sense of the results
- Know what these results mean in the context of the decision they are making.
Burls, A. (2009). What is critical appraisal? In What Is This Series: Evidence-based medicine. Available online at What is Critical Appraisal?
Critical Appraisal Tools and Resources
The following tools and worksheets can help you critically appraise research articles for randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews/meta analysis, evaluations and diagnostic tests and test the validity of your own research.
Trisha Greenhalgh’s series of articles published in the BMJ that explain how to read and interpret different kinds of research papers
Professor Sir Jim Muir Grey’s not-for-profit organisation has been providing free, regularly reviewed checklists for appraising research, glossaries, bibliographies, useful links and more for over 25 years.
These modules take you through the process of how to find the evidence and then how to assess the validity and reliability of the published research in order to provide effective and efficient healthcare.
Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) methodology checklists.
This tool will guide you through a series of questions to help you to review and interpret a published health research paper.
The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust Library have created an Introduction to Critical Appraisal’ e-learning module which is free to access. This introductory module to Critical Appraisal is ideal for those new to appraising or anyone who needs a refresher.
Critical Appraisal Video
The video links out to a series of videos produced by ‘Barts Health Knowledge and Library Services’. They explain, ‘How to Critically Appraise a Randomised Controlled Trial following the CASP checklist’.
Critical Appraisal Training for All Trust Staff
Our Outreach Librarian, Andy Hough, provides critical appraisal training workshops to all Trust staff,
either as 1-2-1 or group sessions.
Presenting an overview of the critical appraisal procedure, the brief workshops include an introduction to the key study designs used within clinical research and how to appraise a paper.