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University of Newcastle Library Guides

EBP for undergrads: Critical appraisal

Guide to evidence-based practice resources for students

Why is critical appraisal important?

Even articles published in peer-reviewed journals may still have issues with methodology, reporting, or conclusions drawn. Critical appraisal enables assessment of the results, relevance and validity of published papers so that decisions can be made about the authority of research and applicability to a local population.

Critical appraisal skills promote understanding of:

  • which treatments or interventions may really work;
  • whether research has been conducted properly and has been reported reliably;
  • which services or treatments are potentially worth funding;
  • whether the benefits of an intervention are likely to outweigh the harms or costs;
  • what to believe when making decisions when there is conflicting research.

[Adapted from CASP]

Undertaking critical appraisal

Considerations for critical appraisal will vary according to the type of study that you are assessing. Common themes are summarised below:

  • Focus of the question asked;
  • Transparency of reporting;
  • Thoroughness of methodology;
  • Minimisation of potential bias;
  • Precision and/or interpretation of findings/results;
  • Consideration of important outcomes;
  • Applicability to local population;
  • Benefits versus harms/costs.

The critical appraisal tools in this guide will provide direction with the appraisal process.

Guidance can also be found in the PDF and articles linked below:

Which critical appraisal tool to use?

Click to view a list of critical appraisal tools


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