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Critical Appraisal

A brief guide to resources for critical appraisal.

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." (Burls 2009) Access to YouTube may be blocked on some networks.

Introduction to critical appraisal. [4.12 Min.] [Presentation] [ YouTube ]

Critical Appraisal of the Evidence [4.32 Min.] [Presentation] [YouTube]

Basics of Critical Appraisal, Dr John Epling [18.33 Min.] [Lecture] [YouTube]

What is critical appraisal? [ pdf ]

Tools and Checklists

Critical appraisal checklists are designed to be used when appraising published research articles and reports. Typically, they prompt you to ask questions of the research to aid your appraisal. Checklists are intended to be used with specific research methodologies. They are produced by a range of different organisations to promote the understanding and use of critical appraisal tools techniques. Links to key organisations and their published checklists are here.

BestBETs Critical Appraisal Worksheets [ Website ]

CASP Checklists [ Website ]

CEBM Critical Appraisal Tools [ Website ]

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence Critical Appraisal Tools [ Website ]

SIGN Critical Appraisal: Notes and Checlists [ Website ]

SURE Critical Appraisal Checklists [ Website ]


Guidelines for Reporting Research

Guidelines exist for the transparent and accurate reporting of research. The CONSORT Statement is an evidence-based, minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomised trials. The EQUATOR database contains a comprehensive collection of reporting guidelines with links to other resources relevant to research reporting.

CONSORT - Transparent Reporting of Trials [ Website ]

EQUATOR Network [ Website ]

Guideline Evaluation

AGREE and GRADE are methodologies supported by software which seek to to manage the transparent and consistent development of evidence-based practice guidelines.

AGREE - Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation [ Website ]

GRADE - Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation [ Website ]

Critically Appraised Articles

Published critical appraisals of journal articles, written by experts.  These provide exemplars of good practice in addition to providing evaluation an of the evidence.

ACP Journal Club 1991 - 1998 [ Website ] continued in the Annals of Internal Medicine 2008 - [ Access via ProQuest ]

BestBETS - Critical Appraisals Database [ Website ]

Levels of Evidence

OCEBM - Levels of Evidence [ Website ] identifies levels of evidence from 1 -5 appropriate for particular types of question. The Levels of Evidence model is a reinterpretation of the Hierarchies of Evidence model, responding to criticisms that is was inflexible. The Hierarchies of Evidence model is typically represented as a pyramid.

Finding Evidence

Journal articles and other research based resources are found by searching databases such as MEDLINE and CINAHL. These and other databases can be accessed from the Databases page which includes guides and descriptions of for each database. Contact the Librarian if you need help to find research or if you are undertaking a work based project or guideline development.


These readings are available on the web. Some resources require an Open Athens account.

Aveyard, H., 2010. Doing A Literature Review In Health And Social Care: A Practical Guide. Open University. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=333803 [Accessed 27 June 2015]. Requires Open Athens account. See Chapter 5. How do I critically appraise the literature?

BMJ., [2015]. How to read a paper. BMJ Available from: http://www.bmj.com/about-bmj/resources-readers/publications/how-read-paper [Accessed 27 June 2015]. A collection of articles in the BMJ that explain how to read and interpret different kinds of research papers.

Greenhalgh, T., 2014. How to read a paper. The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine. 5th ed. eBook. Chichester: Wiley. Available from: http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=578600. Requires Open Athens account.

Sackett, D.L., Rosenberg, W.A., Gray, J.A., Haynes, R.B. & Richardson, W.S., 1996. Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ, 312(7023): 71–72. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2349778/.  The foundational article in evidence-based medicine, of which critical appraisal forms a part.

Further help

If you require further help or training for you or your team please contact Matt Holland.

Last Updated August 2017