Critical Appraisal – Help & Resources

What is Critical Appraisal?

Critical appraisal skills enable you to systematically assess the trustworthiness, relevance and results of published papers. CASP, 2021

In other words, when you see a piece of research saying something that looks interesting, critical appraisal is about working out whether you should take any notice.

What’s on this page?

How can the Library help?
Glossary of Critical Appraisal terms
Videos from Cochrane
Critical Appraisal Checklists

How can the Library help?

 Books on critical appraisal & evidence based medicine – click here to see what we have

e-Books on critical appraisal & evidence based medicine – click here

e-Learning – Health Education England’s e-Learning for Health site has several online courses related to critical appraisal – find them by searching here

Training – Want to learn from a real, live person? Get in touch to arrange a training session with the Library Team – head to the bottom of the page.

 Glossary of Critical Appraisal terms

Want to know your RCT from your Cohort study? Your Meta-analysis from your Blobbogram?

CASP Glossary of Critical Appraisal jargon

 Videos from Cochrane

A series of fairly short (mainly 10-20 minutes long) training videos outlining different types of study design and how to appraise them.  Produced by the Cochrane Common Mental Disorders team – part of Cochrane, an international not-for-profit organisation dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available worldwide.

1. Introduction to Critical Appraisal

2. Systematic reviews and meta analysis

3. Randomised controlled trials

4. Cohort studies

5. Case control studies

6. Cross sectional studies

7. Diagnostic studies

Critical Appraisal Checklists

Introducing critical appraisal and using a CASP checklist to review an RCT

A series of brief videos produced by the University of Sheffield:

Critical Appraisal with CASP Part 1

Critical Appraisal with CASP Part 2 – Qs 1-3

Critical Appraisal with CASP Part 3 – Qs 4-6

Critical Appraisal with CASP Part 4 – Qs 7-8

Critical Appraisal with CASP Part 5 – Qs 9-11

Using a CASP checklist to critically appraise a Quantitative study, ScHARR University of Sheffield

Using a CASP checklist to critically appraise a Qualitative study, ScHARR, University of Sheffield

CASP Checklists

The Critical Appraisals Skills Programme (CASP) has 25 years of significant and unrivalled expertise in the delivery of training to healthcare professionals.

These checklists are aimed at practitioners rather than academics, to help appraise published research studies:

Case Control Study
Clinical Prediction Rule
Cohort Study
Diagnostic Study
Economic Evaluation
Qualitative Studies
Randomised Controlled Trials
Systematic Review

Find them here.

Checklists from The Joanna Briggs Institute

JBI is an international research organisation based in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide, South Australia.

Their critical appraisal tools assist in assessing the trustworthiness, relevance and results of published papers.

Why use them? More study types covered than CASP

Analytical Cross Sectional Studies
Case Control Studies
Case Reports
Case Series
Cohort Studies
Diagnostic Test Accuracy Studies
Economic Evaluations
Prevalence Studies
Qualitative Research
Quasi-Experimental Studies
Randomized Controlled Trials
Systematic Reviews
Text and Opinion

Find them here

SIGN checklists

Checklists were subjected to evaluation and adaptation to meet the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network’s requirements for a balance between methodological rigour and practicality of use.

Why use them? They include more detailed notes on each of the questions asked.

Cohort studies
Case-control studies
Diagnostic studies
Economic studies
Randomised controlled trials
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Find them here

 Statistics (it doesn’t have to feel that way)

Calculating the risk ratio, odds ratio and risk difference in a randomised controlled trial – video from Cochrane training

Odds ratios – what is it and how to calculate it a simple explanation video from The NCCMT (National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools – part of the Public Health Agency of Canada)

Relative Risk – what is it and how to calculate it another video from The NCCMT

Absolute and Relative Risk Reduction – understanding risk – another NCCMT video

Forest plots and how to interpret them – a short video from TopTipBio

P values – How peculiar are those results? – Mr Nystrom knows

Standard Deviations – The average distance from the mean(ish) – Mr Nystrom’s got a video explaining these

Confidence Intervals – What is it? An educated guess – Mr Nystrom’s here with more on this

Books in the library on stats – click here

   Want to talk to a real, live person about Critical Appraisal?

If you’d like more information or to arrange a training session for yourself, your team, or even your department – please contact either of us:

Sarah Gardner
Clinical/Outreach Librarian
(based at Bassetlaw, but can travel & can use Teams!)
Tel: 01909 572950 or BAS ext.572950

Dave Ashbey 
Knowledge & Information Officer
(based at DRI, but can travel & also available on Teams)
Tel: 01302 642892 or DRI ext.642892

 A note about broken links

If you notice any dead links, please let us know and we’ll try and sort them out.  Just email with the details of the link and where on the page it was, thanks.

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