How To Write a Critical Appraisal

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A critical appraisal is an academic approach that refers to the systematic identification of strengths and weakness of a research article with the intent of evaluating the usefulness and validity of the work’s research findings. As with all essays, you need to be clear, concise, and logical in your presentation of arguments, analysis, and evaluation. However, in a critical appraisal there are some specific sections which need to be considered which will form the main basis of your work.

Structure of a Critical Appraisal

Introduction.

Your introduction should introduce the work to be appraised, and how you intend to proceed. In other words, you set out how you will be assessing the article and the criteria you will use. Focusing your introduction on these areas will ensure that your readers understand your purpose and are interested to read on. It needs to be clear that you are undertaking a scientific and literary dissection and examination of the indicated work to assess its validity and credibility, expressed in an interesting and motivational way.

Body of the Work

The body of the work should be separated into clear paragraphs that cover each section of the work and sub-sections for each point that is being covered. In all paragraphs your perspectives should be backed up with hard evidence from credible sources (fully cited and referenced at the end), and not be expressed as an opinion or your own personal point of view. Remember this is a critical appraisal and not a presentation of negative parts of the work.

When appraising the introduction of the article, you should ask yourself whether the article answers the main question it poses. Alongside this look at the date of publication, generally you want works to be within the past 5 years, unless they are seminal works which have strongly influenced subsequent developments in the field. Identify whether the journal in which the article was published is peer reviewed and importantly whether a hypothesis has been presented. Be objective, concise, and coherent in your presentation of this information.

Once you have appraised the introduction you can move onto the methods (or the body of the text if the work is not of a scientific or experimental nature). To effectively appraise the methods, you need to examine whether the approaches used to draw conclusions (i.e., the methodology) is appropriate for the research question, or overall topic. If not, indicate why not, in your appraisal, with evidence to back up your reasoning. Examine the sample population (if there is one), or the data gathered and evaluate whether it is appropriate, sufficient, and viable, before considering the data collection methods and survey instruments used. Are they fit for purpose? Do they meet the needs of the paper? Again, your arguments should be backed up by strong, viable sources that have credible foundations and origins.

One of the most significant areas of appraisal is the results and conclusions presented by the authors of the work. In the case of the results, you need to identify whether there are facts and figures presented to confirm findings, assess whether any statistical tests used are viable, reliable, and appropriate to the work conducted. In addition, whether they have been clearly explained and introduced during the work. In regard to the results presented by the authors you need to present evidence that they have been unbiased and objective, and if not, present evidence of how they have been biased. In this section you should also dissect the results and identify whether any statistical significance reported is accurate and whether the results presented and discussed align with any tables or figures presented.

The final element of the body text is the appraisal of the discussion and conclusion sections. In this case there is a need to identify whether the authors have drawn realistic conclusions from their available data, whether they have identified any clear limitations to their work and whether the conclusions they have drawn are the same as those you would have done had you been presented with the findings.

The conclusion of the appraisal should not introduce any new information but should be a concise summing up of the key points identified in the body text. The conclusion should be a condensation (or precis) of all that you have already written. The aim is bringing together the whole paper and state an opinion (based on evaluated evidence) of how valid and reliable the paper being appraised can be considered to be in the subject area. In all cases, you should reference and cite all sources used. To help you achieve a first class critical appraisal we have put together some key phrases that can help lift you work above that of others.

Key Phrases for a Critical Appraisal

  • Whilst the title might suggest
  • The focus of the work appears to be…
  • The author challenges the notion that…
  • The author makes the claim that…
  • The article makes a strong contribution through…
  • The approach provides the opportunity to…
  • The authors consider…
  • The argument is not entirely convincing because…
  • However, whilst it can be agreed that… it should also be noted that…
  • Several crucial questions are left unanswered…
  • It would have been more appropriate to have stated that…
  • This framework extends and increases…
  • The authors correctly conclude that…
  • The authors efforts can be considered as…
  • Less convincing is the generalisation that…
  • This appears to mislead readers indicating that…
  • This research proves to be timely and particularly significant in the light of…

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  • Published: 31 January 2022

The fundamentals of critically appraising an article

  • Sneha Chotaliya 1  

BDJ Student volume  29 ,  pages 12–13 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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Sneha Chotaliya

We are often surrounded by an abundance of research and articles, but the quality and validity can vary massively. Not everything will be of a good quality - or even valid. An important part of reading a paper is first assessing the paper. This is a key skill for all healthcare professionals as anything we read can impact or influence our practice. It is also important to stay up to date with the latest research and findings.

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Chambers R, 'Clinical Effectiveness Made Easy', Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press , 1998

Loney P L, Chambers L W, Bennett K J, Roberts J G and Stratford P W. Critical appraisal of the health research literature: prevalence or incidence of a health problem. Chronic Dis Can 1998; 19 : 170-176.

Brice R. CASP CHECKLISTS - CASP - Critical Appraisal Skills Programme . 2021. Available at: https://casp-uk.net/casp-tools-checklists/ (Accessed 22 July 2021).

White S, Halter M, Hassenkamp A and Mein G. 2021. Critical Appraisal Techniques for Healthcare Literature . St George's, University of London.

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A guide to critical appraisal of evidence

Fineout-Overholt, Ellen PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN

Ellen Fineout-Overholt is the Mary Coulter Dowdy Distinguished Professor of Nursing at the University of Texas at Tyler School of Nursing, Tyler, Tex.

The author has disclosed no financial relationships related to this article.

Critical appraisal is the assessment of research studies' worth to clinical practice. Critical appraisal—the heart of evidence-based practice—involves four phases: rapid critical appraisal, evaluation, synthesis, and recommendation. This article reviews each phase and provides examples, tips, and caveats to help evidence appraisers successfully determine what is known about a clinical issue. Patient outcomes are improved when clinicians apply a body of evidence to daily practice.

How do nurses assess the quality of clinical research? This article outlines a stepwise approach to critical appraisal of research studies' worth to clinical practice: rapid critical appraisal, evaluation, synthesis, and recommendation. When critical care nurses apply a body of valid, reliable, and applicable evidence to daily practice, patient outcomes are improved.

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Critical care nurses can best explain the reasoning for their clinical actions when they understand the worth of the research supporting their practices. In c ritical appraisal , clinicians assess the worth of research studies to clinical practice. Given that achieving improved patient outcomes is the reason patients enter the healthcare system, nurses must be confident their care techniques will reliably achieve best outcomes.

Nurses must verify that the information supporting their clinical care is valid, reliable, and applicable. Validity of research refers to the quality of research methods used, or how good of a job researchers did conducting a study. Reliability of research means similar outcomes can be achieved when the care techniques of a study are replicated by clinicians. Applicability of research means it was conducted in a similar sample to the patients for whom the findings will be applied. These three criteria determine a study's worth in clinical practice.

Appraising the worth of research requires a standardized approach. This approach applies to both quantitative research (research that deals with counting things and comparing those counts) and qualitative research (research that describes experiences and perceptions). The word critique has a negative connotation. In the past, some clinicians were taught that studies with flaws should be discarded. Today, it is important to consider all valid and reliable research informative to what we understand as best practice. Therefore, the author developed the critical appraisal methodology that enables clinicians to determine quickly which evidence is worth keeping and which must be discarded because of poor validity, reliability, or applicability.

Evidence-based practice process

The evidence-based practice (EBP) process is a seven-step problem-solving approach that begins with data gathering (see Seven steps to EBP ). During daily practice, clinicians gather data supporting inquiry into a particular clinical issue (Step 0). The description is then framed as an answerable question (Step 1) using the PICOT question format ( P opulation of interest; I ssue of interest or intervention; C omparison to the intervention; desired O utcome; and T ime for the outcome to be achieved). 1 Consistently using the PICOT format helps ensure that all elements of the clinical issue are covered. Next, clinicians conduct a systematic search to gather data answering the PICOT question (Step 2). Using the PICOT framework, clinicians can systematically search multiple databases to find available studies to help determine the best practice to achieve the desired outcome for their patients. When the systematic search is completed, the work of critical appraisal begins (Step 3). The known group of valid and reliable studies that answers the PICOT question is called the body of evidence and is the foundation for the best practice implementation (Step 4). Next, clinicians evaluate integration of best evidence with clinical expertise and patient preferences and values to determine if the outcomes in the studies are realized in practice (Step 5). Because healthcare is a community of practice, it is important that experiences with evidence implementation be shared, whether the outcome is what was expected or not. This enables critical care nurses concerned with similar care issues to better understand what has been successful and what has not (Step 6).

Critical appraisal of evidence

The first phase of critical appraisal, rapid critical appraisal, begins with determining which studies will be kept in the body of evidence. All valid, reliable, and applicable studies on the topic should be included. This is accomplished using design-specific checklists with key markers of good research. When clinicians determine a study is one they want to keep (a “keeper” study) and that it belongs in the body of evidence, they move on to phase 2, evaluation. 2

In the evaluation phase, the keeper studies are put together in a table so that they can be compared as a body of evidence, rather than individual studies. This phase of critical appraisal helps clinicians identify what is already known about a clinical issue. In the third phase, synthesis, certain data that provide a snapshot of a particular aspect of the clinical issue are pulled out of the evaluation table to showcase what is known. These snapshots of information underpin clinicians' decision-making and lead to phase 4, recommendation. A recommendation is a specific statement based on the body of evidence indicating what should be done—best practice. Critical appraisal is not complete without a specific recommendation. Each of the phases is explained in more detail below.

Phase 1: Rapid critical appraisal . Rapid critical appraisal involves using two tools that help clinicians determine if a research study is worthy of keeping in the body of evidence. The first tool, General Appraisal Overview for All Studies (GAO), covers the basics of all research studies (see Elements of the General Appraisal Overview for All Studies ). Sometimes, clinicians find gaps in knowledge about certain elements of research studies (for example, sampling or statistics) and need to review some content. Conducting an internet search for resources that explain how to read a research paper, such as an instructional video or step-by-step guide, can be helpful. Finding basic definitions of research methods often helps resolve identified gaps.

To accomplish the GAO, it is best to begin with finding out why the study was conducted and how it answers the PICOT question (for example, does it provide information critical care nurses want to know from the literature). If the study purpose helps answer the PICOT question, then the type of study design is evaluated. The study design is compared with the hierarchy of evidence for the type of PICOT question. The higher the design falls within the hierarchy or levels of evidence, the more confidence nurses can have in its finding, if the study was conducted well. 3,4 Next, find out what the researchers wanted to learn from their study. These are called the research questions or hypotheses. Research questions are just what they imply; insufficient information from theories or the literature are available to guide an educated guess, so a question is asked. Hypotheses are reasonable expectations guided by understanding from theory and other research that predicts what will be found when the research is conducted. The research questions or hypotheses provide the purpose of the study.

Next, the sample size is evaluated. Expectations of sample size are present for every study design. As an example, consider as a rule that quantitative study designs operate best when there is a sample size large enough to establish that relationships do not exist by chance. In general, the more participants in a study, the more confidence in the findings. Qualitative designs operate best with fewer people in the sample because these designs represent a deeper dive into the understanding or experience of each person in the study. 5 It is always important to describe the sample, as clinicians need to know if the study sample resembles their patients. It is equally important to identify the major variables in the study and how they are defined because this helps clinicians best understand what the study is about.

The final step in the GAO is to consider the analyses that answer the study research questions or confirm the study hypothesis. This is another opportunity for clinicians to learn, as learning about statistics in healthcare education has traditionally focused on conducting statistical tests as opposed to interpreting statistical tests. Understanding what the statistics indicate about the study findings is an imperative of critical appraisal of quantitative evidence.

The second tool is one of the variety of rapid critical appraisal checklists that speak to validity, reliability, and applicability of specific study designs, which are available at varying locations (see Critical appraisal resources ). When choosing a checklist to implement with a group of critical care nurses, it is important to verify that the checklist is complete and simple to use. Be sure to check that the checklist has answers to three key questions. The first question is: Are the results of the study valid? Related subquestions should help nurses discern if certain markers of good research design are present within the study. For example, identifying that study participants were randomly assigned to study groups is an essential marker of good research for a randomized controlled trial. Checking these essential markers helps clinicians quickly review a study to check off these important requirements. Clinical judgment is required when the study lacks any of the identified quality markers. Clinicians must discern whether the absence of any of the essential markers negates the usefulness of the study findings. 6-9

TU1

The second question is: What are the study results? This is answered by reviewing whether the study found what it was expecting to and if those findings were meaningful to clinical practice. Basic knowledge of how to interpret statistics is important for understanding quantitative studies, and basic knowledge of qualitative analysis greatly facilitates understanding those results. 6-9

The third question is: Are the results applicable to my patients? Answering this question involves consideration of the feasibility of implementing the study findings into the clinicians' environment as well as any contraindication within the clinicians' patient populations. Consider issues such as organizational politics, financial feasibility, and patient preferences. 6-9

When these questions have been answered, clinicians must decide about whether to keep the particular study in the body of evidence. Once the final group of keeper studies is identified, clinicians are ready to move into the phase of critical appraisal. 6-9

Phase 2: Evaluation . The goal of evaluation is to determine how studies within the body of evidence agree or disagree by identifying common patterns of information across studies. For example, an evaluator may compare whether the same intervention is used or if the outcomes are measured in the same way across all studies. A useful tool to help clinicians accomplish this is an evaluation table. This table serves two purposes: first, it enables clinicians to extract data from the studies and place the information in one table for easy comparison with other studies; and second, it eliminates the need for further searching through piles of periodicals for the information. (See Bonus Content: Evaluation table headings .) Although the information for each of the columns may not be what clinicians consider as part of their daily work, the information is important for them to understand about the body of evidence so that they can explain the patterns of agreement or disagreement they identify across studies. Further, the in-depth understanding of the body of evidence from the evaluation table helps with discussing the relevant clinical issue to facilitate best practice. Their discussion comes from a place of knowledge and experience, which affords the most confidence. The patterns and in-depth understanding are what lead to the synthesis phase of critical appraisal.

The key to a successful evaluation table is simplicity. Entering data into the table in a simple, consistent manner offers more opportunity for comparing studies. 6-9 For example, using abbreviations versus complete sentences in all columns except the final one allows for ease of comparison. An example might be the dependent variable of depression defined as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection” in one study and as “feeling sad and lonely” in another study. 10 Because these are two different definitions, they need to be different dependent variables. Clinicians must use their clinical judgment to discern that these different dependent variables require different names and abbreviations and how these further their comparison across studies.

TU2

Sample and theoretical or conceptual underpinnings are important to understanding how studies compare. Similar samples and settings across studies increase agreement. Several studies with the same conceptual framework increase the likelihood of common independent variables and dependent variables. The findings of a study are dependent on the analyses conducted. That is why an analysis column is dedicated to recording the kind of analysis used (for example, the name of the statistical analyses for quantitative studies). Only statistics that help answer the clinical question belong in this column. The findings column must have a result for each of the analyses listed; however, in the actual results, not in words. For example, a clinician lists a t -test as a statistic in the analysis column, so a t -value should reflect whether the groups are different as well as probability ( P -value or confidence interval) that reflects statistical significance. The explanation for these results would go in the last column that describes worth of the research to practice. This column is much more flexible and contains other information such as the level of evidence, the studies' strengths and limitations, any caveats about the methodology, or other aspects of the study that would be helpful to its use in practice. The final piece of information in this column is a recommendation for how this study would be used in practice. Each of the studies in the body of evidence that addresses the clinical question is placed in one evaluation table to facilitate the ease of comparing across the studies. This comparison sets the stage for synthesis.

Phase 3: Synthesis . In the synthesis phase, clinicians pull out key information from the evaluation table to produce a snapshot of the body of evidence. A table also is used here to feature what is known and help all those viewing the synthesis table to come to the same conclusion. A hypothetical example table included here demonstrates that a music therapy intervention is effective in reducing the outcome of oxygen saturation (SaO 2 ) in six of the eight studies in the body of evidence that evaluated that outcome (see Sample synthesis table: Impact on outcomes ). Simply using arrows to indicate effect offers readers a collective view of the agreement across studies that prompts action. Action may be to change practice, affirm current practice, or conduct research to strengthen the body of evidence by collaborating with nurse scientists.

When synthesizing evidence, there are at least two recommended synthesis tables, including the level-of-evidence table and the impact-on-outcomes table for quantitative questions, such as therapy or relevant themes table for “meaning” questions about human experience. (See Bonus Content: Level of evidence for intervention studies: Synthesis of type .) The sample synthesis table also demonstrates that a final column labeled synthesis indicates agreement across the studies. Of the three outcomes, the most reliable for clinicians to see with music therapy is SaO 2 , with positive results in six out of eight studies. The second most reliable outcome would be reducing increased respiratory rate (RR). Parental engagement has the least support as a reliable outcome, with only two of five studies showing positive results. Synthesis tables make the recommendation clear to all those who are involved in caring for that patient population. Although the two synthesis tables mentioned are a great start, the evidence may require more synthesis tables to adequately explain what is known. These tables are the foundation that supports clinically meaningful recommendations.

Phase 4: Recommendation . Recommendations are definitive statements based on what is known from the body of evidence. For example, with an intervention question, clinicians should be able to discern from the evidence if they will reliably get the desired outcome when they deliver the intervention as it was in the studies. In the sample synthesis table, the recommendation would be to implement the music therapy intervention across all settings with the population, and measure SaO 2 and RR, with the expectation that both would be optimally improved with the intervention. When the synthesis demonstrates that studies consistently verify an outcome occurs as a result of an intervention, however that intervention is not currently practiced, care is not best practice. Therefore, a firm recommendation to deliver the intervention and measure the appropriate outcomes must be made, which concludes critical appraisal of the evidence.

A recommendation that is off limits is conducting more research, as this is not the focus of clinicians' critical appraisal. In the case of insufficient evidence to make a recommendation for practice change, the recommendation would be to continue current practice and monitor outcomes and processes until there are more reliable studies to be added to the body of evidence. Researchers who use the critical appraisal process may indeed identify gaps in knowledge, research methods, or analyses, for example, that they then recommend studies that would fill in the identified gaps. In this way, clinicians and nurse scientists work together to build relevant, efficient bodies of evidence that guide clinical practice.

Evidence into action

Critical appraisal helps clinicians understand the literature so they can implement it. Critical care nurses have a professional and ethical responsibility to make sure their care is based on a solid foundation of available evidence that is carefully appraised using the phases outlined here. Critical appraisal allows for decision-making based on evidence that demonstrates reliable outcomes. Any other approach to the literature is likely haphazard and may lead to misguided care and unreliable outcomes. 11 Evidence translated into practice should have the desired outcomes and their measurement defined from the body of evidence. It is also imperative that all critical care nurses carefully monitor care delivery outcomes to establish that best outcomes are sustained. With the EBP paradigm as the basis for decision-making and the EBP process as the basis for addressing clinical issues, critical care nurses can improve patient, provider, and system outcomes by providing best care.

Seven steps to EBP

Step 0–A spirit of inquiry to notice internal data that indicate an opportunity for positive change.

Step 1– Ask a clinical question using the PICOT question format.

Step 2–Conduct a systematic search to find out what is already known about a clinical issue.

Step 3–Conduct a critical appraisal (rapid critical appraisal, evaluation, synthesis, and recommendation).

Step 4–Implement best practices by blending external evidence with clinician expertise and patient preferences and values.

Step 5–Evaluate evidence implementation to see if study outcomes happened in practice and if the implementation went well.

Step 6–Share project results, good or bad, with others in healthcare.

Adapted from: Steps of the evidence-based practice (EBP) process leading to high-quality healthcare and best patient outcomes. © Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2017. Used with permission.

Critical appraisal resources

  • The Joanna Briggs Institute http://joannabriggs.org/research/critical-appraisal-tools.html
  • Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) www.casp-uk.net/casp-tools-checklists
  • Center for Evidence-Based Medicine www.cebm.net/critical-appraisal
  • Melnyk BM, Fineout-Overholt E. Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare: A Guide to Best Practice . 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2015.

A full set of critical appraisal checklists are available in the appendices.

Bonus content!

This article includes supplementary online-exclusive material. Visit the online version of this article at www.nursingcriticalcare.com to access this content.

critical appraisal; decision-making; evaluation of research; evidence-based practice; synthesis

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Critical Appraisal: A Checklist

Posted on 6th September 2016 by Robert Will

""

Critical appraisal of scientific literature is a necessary skill for healthcare students. Students can be overwhelmed by the vastness of search results. Database searching is a skill in itself, but will not be covered in this blog. This blog assumes that you have found a relevant journal article to answer a clinical question. After selecting an article, you must be able to sit with the article and critically appraise it. Critical appraisal of a journal article is a literary and scientific systematic dissection in an attempt to assign merit to the conclusions of an article. Ideally, an article will be able to undergo scrutiny and retain its findings as valid.

The specific questions used to assess validity change slightly with different study designs and article types. However, in an attempt to provide a generalized checklist, no specific subtype of article has been chosen. Rather, the 20 questions below should be used as a quick reference to appraise any journal article. The first four checklist questions should be answered “Yes.” If any of the four questions are answered “no,” then you should return to your search and attempt to find an article that will meet these criteria.

Critical appraisal of…the Introduction

  • Does the article attempt to answer the same question as your clinical question?
  • Is the article recently published (within 5 years) or is it seminal (i.e. an earlier article but which has strongly influenced later developments)?
  • Is the journal peer-reviewed?
  • Do the authors present a hypothesis?

Critical appraisal of…the Methods

  • Is the study design valid for your question?
  • Are both inclusion and exclusion criteria described?
  • Is there an attempt to limit bias in the selection of participant groups?
  • Are there methodological protocols (i.e. blinding) used to limit other possible bias?
  • Do the research methods limit the influence of confounding variables?
  • Are the outcome measures valid for the health condition you are researching?

Critical appraisal of…the Results

  • Is there a table that describes the subjects’ demographics?
  • Are the baseline demographics between groups similar?
  • Are the subjects generalizable to your patient?
  • Are the statistical tests appropriate for the study design and clinical question?
  • Are the results presented within the paper?
  • Are the results statistically significant and how large is the difference between groups?
  • Is there evidence of significance fishing (i.e. changing statistical tests to ensure significance)?

Critical appraisal of…the Discussion/Conclusion

  • Do the authors attempt to contextualise non-significant data in an attempt to portray significance? (e.g. talking about findings which had a  trend  towards significance as if they were significant).
  • Do the authors acknowledge limitations in the article?
  • Are there any conflicts of interests noted?

This is by no means a comprehensive checklist of how to critically appraise a scientific journal article. However, by answering the previous 20 questions based on a detailed reading of an article, you can appraise most articles for their merit, and thus determine whether the results are valid. I have attempted to list the questions based on the sections most commonly present in a journal article, starting at the introduction and progressing to the conclusion. I believe some of these items are weighted heavier than others (i.e. methodological questions vs journal reputation). However, without taking this list through rigorous testing, I cannot assign a weight to them. Maybe one day, you will be able to critically appraise my future paper:  How Online Checklists Influence Healthcare Students’ Ability to Critically Appraise Journal Articles.

Feature Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

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Robert Will

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Hi Ella, I have found a checklist here for before and after study design: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/study-quality-assessment-tools and you may also find a checklist from this blog, which has a huge number of tools listed: https://s4be.cochrane.org/blog/2018/01/12/appraising-the-appraisal/

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What kind of critical appraisal tool can be used for before and after study design article? Thanks

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Hello, I am currently writing a book chapter on critical appraisal skills. This chapter is limited to 1000 words so your simple 20 questions framework would be the perfect format to cite within this text. May I please have your permission to use your checklist with full acknowledgement given to you as author? Many thanks

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Thank you Robert, I came across your checklist via the Royal College of Surgeons of England website; https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/library-and-publications/library/blog/dissecting-the-literature-the-importance-of-critical-appraisal/ . I really liked it and I have made reference to it for our students. I really appreciate your checklist and it is still current, thank you.

Hi Kirsten. Thank you so much for letting us know that Robert’s checklist has been used in that article – that’s so good to see. If any of your students have any comments about the blog, then do let us know. If you also note any topics that you would like to see on the website, then we can add this to the list of suggested blogs for students to write about. Thank you again. Emma.

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i am really happy with it. thank you very much

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A really useful guide for helping you ask questions about the studies you are reviewing BRAVO

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Dr.Suryanujella,

Thank you for the comment. I’m glad you find it helpful.

Feel free to use the checklist. S4BE asks that you cite the page when you use it.

' src=

I have read your article and found it very useful , crisp with all relevant information.I would like to use it in my presentation with your permission

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That’s great thank you very much. I will definitely give that a go.

I find the MEAL writing approach very versatile. You can use it to plan the entire paper and each paragraph within the paper. There are a lot of helpful MEAL resources online. But understanding the acronym can get you started.

M-Main Idea (What are you arguing?) E-Evidence (What does the literature say?) A-Analysis (Why does the literature matter to your argument?) L-Link (Transition to next paragraph or section)

I hope that is somewhat helpful. -Robert

Hi, I am a university student at Portsmouth University, UK. I understand the premise of a critical appraisal however I am unsure how to structure an essay critically appraising a paper. Do you have any pointers to help me get started?

Thank you. I’m glad that you find this helpful.

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Very informative & to the point for all medical students

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How can I know what is the name of this checklist or tool?

This is a checklist that the author, Robert Will, has designed himself.

Thank you for asking. I am glad you found it helpful. As Emma said, please cite the source when you use it.

' src=

Greetings Robert, I am a postgraduate student at QMUL in the UK and I have just read this comprehensive critical appraisal checklist of your. I really appreciate you. if I may ask, can I have it downloaded?

Please feel free to use the information from this blog – if you could please cite the source then that would be much appreciated.

' src=

Robert Thank you for your comptrehensive account of critical appraisal. I have just completed a teaching module on critical appraisal as part of a four module Evidence Based Medicine programme for undergraduate Meducal students at RCSI Perdana medical school in Malaysia. If you are agreeable I would like to cite it as a reference in our module.

Anthony, Please feel free to cite my checklist. Thank you for asking. I hope that your students find it helpful. They should also browse around S4BE. There are numerous other helpful articles on this site.

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Risk of Bias of Individual Studies

example of critical appraisal essay

“The purpose of critical appraisal is to determine the scientific merit of a research report and its applicability to clinical decision making.” 1 Conducting a critical appraisal of a study is imperative to any well executed evidence review, but the process can be time consuming and difficult. 2 The critical appraisal process requires “a methodological approach coupled with the right tools and skills to match these methods is essential for finding meaningful results.” 3 In short, it is a method of differentiating good research from bad research.

Risk of Bias by Study Design (featured tools)

  • Non-RCTs or Observational Studies
  • Diagnostic Accuracy
  • Animal Studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • Tool Repository
  • AMSTAR 2 The original AMSTAR was developed to assess the risk of bias in systematic reviews that included only randomized controlled trials. AMSTAR 2 was published in 2017 and allows researchers to “identify high quality systematic reviews, including those based on non-randomised studies of healthcare interventions.” 4 more... less... AMSTAR 2 (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews)
  • ROBIS ROBIS is a tool designed specifically to assess the risk of bias in systematic reviews. “The tool is completed in three phases: (1) assess relevance(optional), (2) identify concerns with the review process, and (3) judge risk of bias in the review. Signaling questions are included to help assess specific concerns about potential biases with the review.” 5 more... less... ROBIS (Risk of Bias in Systematic Reviews)
  • BMJ Framework for Assessing Systematic Reviews This framework provides a checklist that is used to evaluate the quality of a systematic review.
  • CASP Checklist for Systematic Reviews This CASP checklist is not a scoring system, but rather a method of appraising systematic reviews by considering: 1. Are the results of the study valid? 2. What are the results? 3. Will the results help locally? more... less... CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme)
  • CEBM Systematic Reviews Critical Appraisal Sheet The CEBM’s critical appraisal sheets are designed to help you appraise the reliability, importance, and applicability of clinical evidence. more... less... CEBM (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine)
  • JBI Critical Appraisal Tools, Checklist for Systematic Reviews JBI Critical Appraisal Tools help you assess the methodological quality of a study and to determine the extent to which study has addressed the possibility of bias in its design, conduct and analysis.
  • NHLBI Study Quality Assessment of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses The NHLBI’s quality assessment tools were designed to assist reviewers in focusing on concepts that are key for critical appraisal of the internal validity of a study. more... less... NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • RoB 2 RoB 2 “provides a framework for assessing the risk of bias in a single estimate of an intervention effect reported from a randomized trial,” rather than the entire trial. 6 more... less... RoB 2 (revised tool to assess Risk of Bias in randomized trials)
  • CASP Randomised Controlled Trials Checklist This CASP checklist considers various aspects of an RCT that require critical appraisal: 1. Is the basic study design valid for a randomized controlled trial? 2. Was the study methodologically sound? 3. What are the results? 4. Will the results help locally? more... less... CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme)
  • CONSORT Statement The CONSORT checklist includes 25 items to determine the quality of randomized controlled trials. “Critical appraisal of the quality of clinical trials is possible only if the design, conduct, and analysis of RCTs are thoroughly and accurately described in the report.” 7 more... less... CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials)
  • NHLBI Study Quality Assessment of Controlled Intervention Studies The NHLBI’s quality assessment tools were designed to assist reviewers in focusing on concepts that are key for critical appraisal of the internal validity of a study. more... less... NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • JBI Critical Appraisal Tools Checklist for Randomized Controlled Trials JBI Critical Appraisal Tools help you assess the methodological quality of a study and to determine the extent to which study has addressed the possibility of bias in its design, conduct and analysis.
  • ROBINS-I ROBINS-I is a “tool for evaluating risk of bias in estimates of the comparative effectiveness… of interventions from studies that did not use randomization to allocate units… to comparison groups.” 8 more... less... ROBINS-I (Risk Of Bias in Non-randomized Studies – of Interventions)
  • NOS This tool is used primarily to evaluate and appraise case-control or cohort studies. more... less... NOS (Newcastle-Ottawa Scale)
  • AXIS Cross-sectional studies are frequently used as an evidence base for diagnostic testing, risk factors for disease, and prevalence studies. “The AXIS tool focuses mainly on the presented [study] methods and results.” 9 more... less... AXIS (Appraisal tool for Cross-Sectional Studies)
  • NHLBI Study Quality Assessment Tools for Non-Randomized Studies The NHLBI’s quality assessment tools were designed to assist reviewers in focusing on concepts that are key for critical appraisal of the internal validity of a study. • Quality Assessment Tool for Observational Cohort and Cross-Sectional Studies • Quality Assessment of Case-Control Studies • Quality Assessment Tool for Before-After (Pre-Post) Studies With No Control Group • Quality Assessment Tool for Case Series Studies more... less... NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
  • Case Series Studies Quality Appraisal Checklist Developed by the Institute of Health Economics (Canada), the checklist is comprised of 20 questions to assess “the robustness of the evidence of uncontrolled, [case series] studies.” 10
  • Methodological Quality and Synthesis of Case Series and Case Reports In this paper, Dr. Murad and colleagues “present a framework for appraisal, synthesis and application of evidence derived from case reports and case series.” 11
  • MINORS The MINORS instrument contains 12 items and was developed for evaluating the quality of observational or non-randomized studies. 12 This tool may be of particular interest to researchers who would like to critically appraise surgical studies. more... less... MINORS (Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies)
  • JBI Critical Appraisal Tools for Non-Randomized Trials JBI Critical Appraisal Tools help you assess the methodological quality of a study and to determine the extent to which study has addressed the possibility of bias in its design, conduct and analysis. • Checklist for Analytical Cross Sectional Studies • Checklist for Case Control Studies • Checklist for Case Reports • Checklist for Case Series • Checklist for Cohort Studies
  • QUADAS-2 The QUADAS-2 tool “is designed to assess the quality of primary diagnostic accuracy studies… [it] consists of 4 key domains that discuss patient selection, index test, reference standard, and flow of patients through the study and timing of the index tests and reference standard.” 13 more... less... QUADAS-2 (a revised tool for the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies)
  • JBI Critical Appraisal Tools Checklist for Diagnostic Test Accuracy Studies JBI Critical Appraisal Tools help you assess the methodological quality of a study and to determine the extent to which study has addressed the possibility of bias in its design, conduct and analysis.
  • STARD 2015 The authors of the standards note that “[e]ssential elements of [diagnostic accuracy] study methods are often poorly described and sometimes completely omitted, making both critical appraisal and replication difficult, if not impossible.”10 The Standards for the Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies was developed “to help… improve completeness and transparency in reporting of diagnostic accuracy studies.” 14 more... less... STARD 2015 (Standards for the Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies)
  • CASP Diagnostic Study Checklist This CASP checklist considers various aspects of diagnostic test studies including: 1. Are the results of the study valid? 2. What were the results? 3. Will the results help locally? more... less... CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme)
  • CEBM Diagnostic Critical Appraisal Sheet The CEBM’s critical appraisal sheets are designed to help you appraise the reliability, importance, and applicability of clinical evidence. more... less... CEBM (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine)
  • SYRCLE’s RoB “[I]mplementation of [SYRCLE’s RoB tool] will facilitate and improve critical appraisal of evidence from animal studies. This may… enhance the efficiency of translating animal research into clinical practice and increase awareness of the necessity of improving the methodological quality of animal studies.” 15 more... less... SYRCLE’s RoB (SYstematic Review Center for Laboratory animal Experimentation’s Risk of Bias)
  • ARRIVE 2.0 “The [ARRIVE 2.0] guidelines are a checklist of information to include in a manuscript to ensure that publications [on in vivo animal studies] contain enough information to add to the knowledge base.” 16 more... less... ARRIVE 2.0 (Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments)
  • Critical Appraisal of Studies Using Laboratory Animal Models This article provides “an approach to critically appraising papers based on the results of laboratory animal experiments,” and discusses various “bias domains” in the literature that critical appraisal can identify. 17
  • CEBM Critical Appraisal of Qualitative Studies Sheet The CEBM’s critical appraisal sheets are designed to help you appraise the reliability, importance and applicability of clinical evidence. more... less... CEBM (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine)
  • CASP Qualitative Studies Checklist This CASP checklist considers various aspects of qualitative research studies including: 1. Are the results of the study valid? 2. What were the results? 3. Will the results help locally? more... less... CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme)
  • Quality Assessment and Risk of Bias Tool Repository Created by librarians at Duke University, this extensive listing contains over 100 commonly used risk of bias tools that may be sorted by study type.
  • Latitudes Network A library of risk of bias tools for use in evidence syntheses that provides selection help and training videos.

References & Recommended Reading

1.     Kolaski, K., Logan, L. R., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2024). Guidance to best tools and practices for systematic reviews .  British Journal of Pharmacology ,  181 (1), 180-210

2.    Portney LG.  Foundations of clinical research : applications to evidence-based practice.  Fourth edition. ed. Philadelphia: F A Davis; 2020.

3.     Fowkes FG, Fulton PM.  Critical appraisal of published research: introductory guidelines.   BMJ (Clinical research ed).  1991;302(6785):1136-1140.

4.     Singh S.  Critical appraisal skills programme.   Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics.  2013;4(1):76-77.

5.     Shea BJ, Reeves BC, Wells G, et al.  AMSTAR 2: a critical appraisal tool for systematic reviews that include randomised or non-randomised studies of healthcare interventions, or both.   BMJ (Clinical research ed).  2017;358:j4008.

6.     Whiting P, Savovic J, Higgins JPT, et al.  ROBIS: A new tool to assess risk of bias in systematic reviews was developed.   Journal of clinical epidemiology.  2016;69:225-234.

7.     Sterne JAC, Savovic J, Page MJ, et al.  RoB 2: a revised tool for assessing risk of bias in randomised trials.  BMJ (Clinical research ed).  2019;366:l4898.

8.     Moher D, Hopewell S, Schulz KF, et al.  CONSORT 2010 Explanation and Elaboration: Updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials.  Journal of clinical epidemiology.  2010;63(8):e1-37.

9.     Sterne JA, Hernan MA, Reeves BC, et al.  ROBINS-I: a tool for assessing risk of bias in non-randomised studies of interventions.  BMJ (Clinical research ed).  2016;355:i4919.

10.     Downes MJ, Brennan ML, Williams HC, Dean RS.  Development of a critical appraisal tool to assess the quality of cross-sectional studies (AXIS).   BMJ open.  2016;6(12):e011458.

11.   Guo B, Moga C, Harstall C, Schopflocher D.  A principal component analysis is conducted for a case series quality appraisal checklist.   Journal of clinical epidemiology.  2016;69:199-207.e192.

12.   Murad MH, Sultan S, Haffar S, Bazerbachi F.  Methodological quality and synthesis of case series and case reports.  BMJ evidence-based medicine.  2018;23(2):60-63.

13.   Slim K, Nini E, Forestier D, Kwiatkowski F, Panis Y, Chipponi J.  Methodological index for non-randomized studies (MINORS): development and validation of a new instrument.   ANZ journal of surgery.  2003;73(9):712-716.

14.   Whiting PF, Rutjes AWS, Westwood ME, et al.  QUADAS-2: a revised tool for the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies.   Annals of internal medicine.  2011;155(8):529-536.

15.   Bossuyt PM, Reitsma JB, Bruns DE, et al.  STARD 2015: an updated list of essential items for reporting diagnostic accuracy studies.   BMJ (Clinical research ed).  2015;351:h5527.

16.   Hooijmans CR, Rovers MM, de Vries RBM, Leenaars M, Ritskes-Hoitinga M, Langendam MW.  SYRCLE's risk of bias tool for animal studies.   BMC medical research methodology.  2014;14:43.

17.   Percie du Sert N, Ahluwalia A, Alam S, et al.  Reporting animal research: Explanation and elaboration for the ARRIVE guidelines 2.0.  PLoS biology.  2020;18(7):e3000411.

18.   O'Connor AM, Sargeant JM.  Critical appraisal of studies using laboratory animal models.   ILAR journal.  2014;55(3):405-417.

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Medicine: A Brief Guide to Critical Appraisal

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Have you ever seen a news piece about a scientific breakthrough and wondered how accurate the reporting is? Or wondered about the research behind the headlines? This is the beginning of critical appraisal: thinking critically about what you see and hear, and asking questions to determine how much of a 'breakthrough' something really is.

The article " Is this study legit? 5 questions to ask when reading news stories of medical research " is a succinct introduction to the sorts of questions you should ask in these situations, but there's more than that when it comes to critical appraisal. Read on to learn more about this practical and crucial aspect of evidence-based practice.

What is Critical Appraisal?

Critical appraisal forms part of the process of evidence-based practice. “ Evidence-based practice across the health professions ” outlines the fives steps of this process. Critical appraisal is step three:

  • Ask a question
  • Access the information
  • Appraise the articles found
  • Apply the information

Critical appraisal is the examination of evidence to determine applicability to clinical practice. It considers (1) :

  • Are the results of the study believable?
  • Was the study methodologically sound?  
  • What is the clinical importance of the study’s results?
  • Are the findings sufficiently important? That is, are they practice-changing?  
  • Are the results of the study applicable to your patient?
  • Is your patient comparable to the population in the study?

Why Critically Appraise?

If practitioners hope to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’, practicing in a manner that is responsive to the discoveries of the research community, then it makes sense for the responsible, critically thinking practitioner to consider the reliability, influence, and relevance of the evidence presented to them.

While critical thinking is valuable, it is also important to avoid treading too much into cynicism; in the words of Hoffman et al. (1):

… keep in mind that no research is perfect and that it is important not to be overly critical of research articles. An article just needs to be good enough to assist you to make a clinical decision.

How do I Critically Appraise?

Evidence-based practice is intended to be practical . To enable this, critical appraisal checklists have been developed to guide practitioners through the process in an efficient yet comprehensive manner.

Critical appraisal checklists guide the reader through the appraisal process by prompting the reader to ask certain questions of the paper they are appraising. There are many different critical appraisal checklists but the best apply certain questions based on what type of study the paper is describing. This allows for a more nuanced and appropriate appraisal. Wherever possible, choose the appraisal tool that best fits the study you are appraising.

Like many things in life, repetition builds confidence and the more you apply critical appraisal tools (like checklists) to the literature the more the process will become second nature for you and the more effective you will be.

How do I Identify Study Types?

Identifying the study type described in the paper is sometimes a harder job than it should be. Helpful papers spell out the study type in the title or abstract, but not all papers are helpful in this way. As such, the critical appraiser may need to do a little work to identify what type of study they are about to critique. Again, experience builds confidence but having an understanding of the typical features of common study types certainly helps.

To assist with this, the Library has produced a guide to study designs in health research .

The following selected references will help also with understanding study types but there are also other resources in the Library’s collection and freely available online:

  • The “ How to read a paper ” article series from The BMJ is a well-known source for establishing an understanding of the features of different study types; this series was subsequently adapted into a book (“ How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine ”) which offers more depth and currency than that found in the articles. (2)  
  • Chapter two of “ Evidence-based practice across the health professions ” briefly outlines some study types and their application; subsequent chapters go into more detail about different study types depending on what type of question they are exploring (intervention, diagnosis, prognosis, qualitative) along with systematic reviews.  
  • “ Clinical evidence made easy ” contains several chapters on different study designs and also includes critical appraisal tools. (3)  
  • “ Translational research and clinical practice: basic tools for medical decision making and self-learning ” unpacks the components of a paper, explaining their purpose along with key features of different study designs. (4)  
  • The BMJ website contains the contents of the fourth edition of the book “ Epidemiology for the uninitiated ”. This eBook contains chapters exploring ecological studies, longitudinal studies, case-control and cross-sectional studies, and experimental studies.

Reporting Guidelines

In order to encourage consistency and quality, authors of reports on research should follow reporting guidelines when writing their papers. The EQUATOR Network is a good source of reporting guidelines for the main study types.

While these guidelines aren't critical appraisal tools as such, they can assist by prompting you to consider whether the reporting of the research is missing important elements.

Once you've identified the study type at hand, visit EQUATOR to find the associated reporting guidelines and ask yourself: does this paper meet the guideline for its study type?

Which Checklist Should I Use?

Determining which checklist to use ultimately comes down to finding an appraisal tool that:

  • Fits best with the study you are appraising
  • Is reliable, well-known or otherwise validated
  • You understand and are comfortable using

Below are some sources of critical appraisal tools. These have been selected as they are known to be widely accepted, easily applicable, and relevant to appraisal of a typical journal article. You may find another tool that you prefer, which is acceptable as long as it is defensible:

  • CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme)
  • JBI (Joanna Briggs Institute)
  • CEBM (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine)
  • SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network)
  • STROBE (Strengthing the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology)
  • BMJ Best Practice

The information on this page has been compiled by the Medical Librarian. Please contact the Library's Health Team ( [email protected] ) for further assistance.

Reference list

1. Hoffmann T, Bennett S, Del Mar C. Evidence-based practice across the health professions. 2nd ed. Chatswood, N.S.W., Australia: Elsevier Churchill Livingston; 2013.

2. Greenhalgh T. How to read a paper : the basics of evidence-based medicine. 5th ed. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley; 2014.

3. Harris M, Jackson D, Taylor G. Clinical evidence made easy. Oxfordshire, England: Scion Publishing; 2014.

4. Aronoff SC. Translational research and clinical practice: basic tools for medical decision making and self-learning. New York: Oxford University Press; 2011.

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  • About RCS England

example of critical appraisal essay

  • Dissecting the literature: the importance of critical appraisal

08 Dec 2017

Kirsty Morrison

This post was updated  in 2023.

Critical appraisal is the process of carefully and systematically examining research to judge its trustworthiness, and its value and relevance in a particular context.

Amanda Burls, What is Critical Appraisal?

Critical Appraisal 1

Why is critical appraisal needed?

Literature searches using databases like Medline or EMBASE often result in an overwhelming volume of results which can vary in quality. Similarly, those who browse medical literature for the purposes of CPD or in response to a clinical query will know that there are vast amounts of content available. Critical appraisal helps to reduce the burden and allow you to focus on articles that are relevant to the research question, and that can reliably support or refute its claims with high-quality evidence, or identify high-level research relevant to your practice.

Critical Appraisal 2

Critical appraisal allows us to:

  • reduce information overload by eliminating irrelevant or weak studies
  • identify the most relevant papers
  • distinguish evidence from opinion, assumptions, misreporting, and belief
  • assess the validity of the study
  • assess the usefulness and clinical applicability of the study
  • recognise any potential for bias.

Critical appraisal helps to separate what is significant from what is not. One way we use critical appraisal in the Library is to prioritise the most clinically relevant content for our Current Awareness Updates .

How to critically appraise a paper

There are some general rules to help you, including a range of checklists highlighted at the end of this blog. Some key questions to consider when critically appraising a paper:

  • Is the study question relevant to my field?
  • Does the study add anything new to the evidence in my field?
  • What type of research question is being asked? A well-developed research question usually identifies three components: the group or population of patients, the studied parameter (e.g. a therapy or clinical intervention) and outcomes of interest.
  • Was the study design appropriate for the research question? You can learn more about different study types and the hierarchy of evidence here .
  • Did the methodology address important potential sources of bias? Bias can be attributed to chance (e.g. random error) or to the study methods (systematic bias).
  • Was the study performed according to the original protocol? Deviations from the planned protocol can affect the validity or relevance of a study, e.g. a decrease in the studied population over the course of a randomised controlled trial .
  • Does the study test a stated hypothesis? Is there a clear statement of what the investigators expect the study to find which can be tested, and confirmed or refuted.
  • Were the statistical analyses performed correctly? The approach to dealing with missing data, and the statistical techniques that have been applied should be specified. Original data should be presented clearly so that readers can check the statistical accuracy of the paper.
  • Do the data justify the conclusions? Watch out for definite conclusions based on statistically insignificant results, generalised findings from a small sample size, and statistically significant associations being misinterpreted to imply a cause and effect.
  • Are there any conflicts of interest? Who has funded the study and can we trust their objectivity? Do the authors have any potential conflicts of interest, and have these been declared?

And an important consideration for surgeons:

  • Will the results help me manage my patients?

At the end of the appraisal process you should have a better appreciation of how strong the evidence is, and ultimately whether or not you should apply it to your patients.

Further resources:

  • How to Read a Paper by Trisha Greenhalgh
  • The Doctor’s Guide to Critical Appraisal by Narinder Kaur Gosall
  • CASP checklists
  • CEBM Critical Appraisal Tools
  • Critical Appraisal: a checklist
  • Critical Appraisal of a Journal Article (PDF)
  • Introduction to...Critical appraisal of literature
  • Reporting guidelines for the main study types

Kirsty Morrison, Information Specialist

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  • Volume 25, Issue 1
  • Critical appraisal of qualitative research: necessity, partialities and the issue of bias
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  • http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5660-8224 Veronika Williams ,
  • Anne-Marie Boylan ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4597-1276 David Nunan
  • Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences , University of Oxford, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter , Oxford , UK
  • Correspondence to Dr Veronika Williams, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6GG, UK; veronika.williams{at}phc.ox.ac.uk

https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjebm-2018-111132

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  • qualitative research

Introduction

Qualitative evidence allows researchers to analyse human experience and provides useful exploratory insights into experiential matters and meaning, often explaining the ‘how’ and ‘why’. As we have argued previously 1 , qualitative research has an important place within evidence-based healthcare, contributing to among other things policy on patient safety, 2 prescribing, 3 4 and understanding chronic illness. 5 Equally, it offers additional insight into quantitative studies, explaining contextual factors surrounding a successful intervention or why an intervention might have ‘failed’ or ‘succeeded’ where effect sizes cannot. It is for these reasons that the MRC strongly recommends including qualitative evaluations when developing and evaluating complex interventions. 6

Critical appraisal of qualitative research

Is it necessary.

Although the importance of qualitative research to improve health services and care is now increasingly widely supported (discussed in paper 1), the role of appraising the quality of qualitative health research is still debated. 8 10 Despite a large body of literature focusing on appraisal and rigour, 9 11–15 often referred to as ‘trustworthiness’ 16 in qualitative research, there remains debate about how to —and even whether to—critically appraise qualitative research. 8–10 17–19 However, if we are to make a case for qualitative research as integral to evidence-based healthcare, then any argument to omit a crucial element of evidence-based practice is difficult to justify. That being said, simply applying the standards of rigour used to appraise studies based on the positivist paradigm (Positivism depends on quantifiable observations to test hypotheses and assumes that the researcher is independent of the study. Research situated within a positivist paradigm isbased purely on facts and consider the world to be external and objective and is concerned with validity, reliability and generalisability as measures of rigour.) would be misplaced given the different epistemological underpinnings of the two types of data.

Given its scope and its place within health research, the robust and systematic appraisal of qualitative research to assess its trustworthiness is as paramount to its implementation in clinical practice as any other type of research. It is important to appraise different qualitative studies in relation to the specific methodology used because the methodological approach is linked to the ‘outcome’ of the research (eg, theory development, phenomenological understandings and credibility of findings). Moreover, appraisal needs to go beyond merely describing the specific details of the methods used (eg, how data were collected and analysed), with additional focus needed on the overarching research design and its appropriateness in accordance with the study remit and objectives.

Poorly conducted qualitative research has been described as ‘worthless, becomes fiction and loses its utility’. 20 However, without a deep understanding of concepts of quality in qualitative research or at least an appropriate means to assess its quality, good qualitative research also risks being dismissed, particularly in the context of evidence-based healthcare where end users may not be well versed in this paradigm.

How is appraisal currently performed?

Appraising the quality of qualitative research is not a new concept—there are a number of published appraisal tools, frameworks and checklists in existence. 21–23  An important and often overlooked point is the confusion between tools designed for appraising methodological quality and reporting guidelines designed to assess the quality of methods reporting. An example is the Consolidate Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) 24 checklist, which was designed to provide standards for authors when reporting qualitative research but is often mistaken for a methods appraisal tool. 10

Broadly speaking there are two types of critical appraisal approaches for qualitative research: checklists and frameworks. Checklists have often been criticised for confusing quality in qualitative research with ‘technical fixes’ 21 25 , resulting in the erroneous prioritisation of particular aspects of methodological processes over others (eg, multiple coding and triangulation). It could be argued that a checklist approach adopts the positivist paradigm, where the focus is on objectively assessing ‘quality’ where the assumptions is that the researcher is independent of the research conducted. This may result in the application of quantitative understandings of bias in order to judge aspects of recruitment, sampling, data collection and analysis in qualitative research papers. One of the most widely used appraisal tools is the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) 26 and along with the JBI QARI (Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Assessment and Assessment Instrument) 27 presents examples which tend to mimic the quantitative approach to appraisal. The CASP qualitative tool follows that of other CASP appraisal tools for quantitative research designs developed in the 1990s. The similarities are therefore unsurprising given the status of qualitative research at that time.

Frameworks focus on the overarching concepts of quality in qualitative research, including transparency, reflexivity, dependability and transferability (see box 1 ). 11–13 15 16 20 28 However, unless the reader is familiar with these concepts—their meaning and impact, and how to interpret them—they will have difficulty applying them when critically appraising a paper.

The main issue concerning currently available checklist and framework appraisal methods is that they take a broad brush approach to ‘qualitative’ research as whole, with few, if any, sufficiently differentiating between the different methodological approaches (eg, Grounded Theory, Interpretative Phenomenology, Discourse Analysis) nor different methods of data collection (interviewing, focus groups and observations). In this sense, it is akin to taking the entire field of ‘quantitative’ study designs and applying a single method or tool for their quality appraisal. In the case of qualitative research, checklists, therefore, offer only a blunt and arguably ineffective tool and potentially promote an incomplete understanding of good ‘quality’ in qualitative research. Likewise, current framework methods do not take into account how concepts differ in their application across the variety of qualitative approaches and, like checklists, they also do not differentiate between different qualitative methodologies.

On the need for specific appraisal tools

Current approaches to the appraisal of the methodological rigour of the differing types of qualitative research converge towards checklists or frameworks. More importantly, the current tools do not explicitly acknowledge the prejudices that may be present in the different types of qualitative research.

Concepts of rigour or trustworthiness within qualitative research 31

Transferability: the extent to which the presented study allows readers to make connections between the study’s data and wider community settings, ie, transfer conceptual findings to other contexts.

Credibility: extent to which a research account is believable and appropriate, particularly in relation to the stories told by participants and the interpretations made by the researcher.

Reflexivity: refers to the researchers’ engagement of continuous examination and explanation of how they have influenced a research project from choosing a research question to sampling, data collection, analysis and interpretation of data.

Transparency: making explicit the whole research process from sampling strategies, data collection to analysis. The rationale for decisions made is as important as the decisions themselves.

However, we often talk about these concepts in general terms, and it might be helpful to give some explicit examples of how the ‘technical processes’ affect these, for example, partialities related to:

Selection: recruiting participants via gatekeepers, such as healthcare professionals or clinicians, who may select them based on whether they believe them to be ‘good’ participants for interviews/focus groups.

Data collection: poor interview guide with closed questions which encourage yes/no answers and/leading questions.

Reflexivity and transparency: where researchers may focus their analysis on preconceived ideas rather than ground their analysis in the data and do not reflect on the impact of this in a transparent way.

The lack of tailored, method-specific appraisal tools has potentially contributed to the poor uptake and use of qualitative research for informing evidence-based decision making. To improve this situation, we propose the need for more robust quality appraisal tools that explicitly encompass both the core design aspects of all qualitative research (sampling/data collection/analysis) but also considered the specific partialities that can be presented with different methodological approaches. Such tools might draw on the strengths of current frameworks and checklists while providing users with sufficient understanding of concepts of rigour in relation to the different types of qualitative methods. We provide an outline of such tools in the third and final paper in this series.

As qualitative research becomes ever more embedded in health science research, and in order for that research to have better impact on healthcare decisions, we need to rethink critical appraisal and develop tools that allow differentiated evaluations of the myriad of qualitative methodological approaches rather than continuing to treat qualitative research as a single unified approach.

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Contributors VW and DN: conceived the idea for this article. VW: wrote the first draft. AMB and DN: contributed to the final draft. All authors approve the submitted article.

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Correction notice This article has been updated since its original publication to include a new reference (reference 1.)

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Critical Appraisal: Assessing the Quality of Studies

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  • Edward Purssell   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-3748-0864 3 &
  • Niall McCrae   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-9776-7694 4  

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There is great variation in the type and quality of research evidence. Having completed your search and assembled your studies, the next step is to critically appraise the studies to ascertain their quality. Ultimately you will be making a judgement about the overall evidence, but that comes later. You will see throughout this chapter that we make a clear differentiation between the individual studies and what we call the body of evidence , which is all of the studies and anything else that we use to answer the question or to make a recommendation. This chapter deals with only the first of these—the individual studies. Critical appraisal, like everything else in systematic literature reviewing, is a scientific exercise that requires individual judgement, and we describe some tools to help you.

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Purssell, E., McCrae, N. (2020). Critical Appraisal: Assessing the Quality of Studies. In: How to Perform a Systematic Literature Review. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49672-2_6

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Critical Appraisal for Health Students

  • Critical Appraisal of a quantitative paper
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Appraisal of a Quantitative paper: Top tips

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  • Introduction

Critical appraisal of a quantitative paper (RCT)

This guide, aimed at health students, provides basic level support for appraising quantitative research papers. It's designed for students who have already attended lectures on critical appraisal. One framework for appraising quantitative research (based on reliability, internal and external validity) is provided and there is an opportunity to practise the technique on a sample article.

Please note this framework is for appraising one particular type of quantitative research a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) which is defined as 

a trial in which participants are randomly assigned to one of two or more groups: the experimental group or groups receive the intervention or interventions being tested; the comparison group (control group) receive usual care or no treatment or a placebo.  The groups are then followed up to see if there are any differences between the results.  This helps in assessing the effectiveness of the intervention.(CASP, 2020)

Support materials

  • Framework for reading quantitative papers (RCTs)
  • Critical appraisal of a quantitative paper PowerPoint

To practise following this framework for critically appraising a quantitative article, please look at the following article:

Marrero, D.G.  et al  (2016) 'Comparison of commercial and self-initiated weight loss programs in people with prediabetes: a randomized control trial',  AJPH Research , 106(5), pp. 949-956.

Critical Appraisal of a quantitative paper (RCT): practical example

  • Internal Validity
  • External Validity
  • Reliability Measurement Tool

How to use this practical example 

Using the framework, you can have a go at appraising a quantitative paper - we are going to look at the following article:

Marrero, d.g.  et al  (2016) 'comparison of commercial and self-initiated weight loss programs in people with prediabetes: a randomized control trial',  ajph research , 106(5), pp. 949-956.,            step 1.  take a quick look at the article, step 2.  click on the internal validity tab above - there are questions to help you appraise the article, read the questions and look for the answers in the article. , step 3.   click on each question and our answers will appear., step 4.    repeat with the other aspects of external validity and reliability. , questioning the internal validity:, randomisation : how were participants allocated to each group did a randomisation process taken place, comparability of groups: how similar were the groups eg age, sex, ethnicity – is this made clear, blinding (none, single, double or triple): who was not aware of which group a patient was in (eg nobody, only patient, patient and clinician, patient, clinician and researcher) was it feasible for more blinding to have taken place , equal treatment of groups: were both groups treated in the same way , attrition : what percentage of participants dropped out did this adversely affect one group has this been evaluated, overall internal validity: does the research measure what it is supposed to be measuring, questioning the external validity:, attrition: was everyone accounted for at the end of the study was any attempt made to contact drop-outs, sampling approach: how was the sample selected was it based on probability or non-probability what was the approach (eg simple random, convenience) was this an appropriate approach, sample size (power calculation): how many participants was a sample size calculation performed did the study pass, exclusion/ inclusion criteria: were the criteria set out clearly were they based on recognised diagnostic criteria, what is the overall external validity can the results be applied to the wider population, questioning the reliability (measurement tool) internal validity:, internal consistency reliability (cronbach’s alpha). has a cronbach’s alpha score of 0.7 or above been included, test re-test reliability correlation. was the test repeated more than once were the same results received has a correlation coefficient been reported is it above 0.7 , validity of measurement tool. is it an established tool if not what has been done to check if it is reliable pilot study expert panel literature review criterion validity (test against other tools): has a criterion validity comparison been carried out was the score above 0.7, what is the overall reliability how consistent are the measurements , overall validity and reliability:, overall how valid and reliable is the paper.

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Critical Appraisal of Clinical Studies: An Example from Computed Tomography Screening for Lung Cancer

Introduction.

Every physician is familiar with the impact that findings from studies published in scientific journals can have on medical practice, especially when the findings are amplified by popular press coverage and direct-to-consumer advertising. New studies are continually published in prominent journals, often proposing significant and costly changes in clinical practice. This situation has the potential to adversely affect the quality, delivery, and cost of care, especially if the proposed changes are not supported by the study's data. Reports about the results of a single study do not portray the many considerations inherent in a decision to recommend or not recommend an intervention in the context of a large health care organization like Kaiser Permanente (KP).

… in many cases, published articles do not discuss or acknowledge the weaknesses of the research …

Moreover, in many cases, published articles do not discuss or acknowledge the weaknesses of the research, and the reader must devote a considerable amount of time to identifying them. This creates a problem for the busy physician, who often lacks the time for systematic evaluation of the methodologic rigor and reliability of a study's findings. The Southern California Permanente Medical Group's Technology Assessment and Guidelines (TAG) Unit critically appraises studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals and provides evidence summaries to assist senior leaders and physicians in applying study findings to clinical practice. In the following sections, we provide a recent example of the TAG Unit's critical appraisal of a highly publicized study, highlighting key steps involved in the critical appraisal process.

Critical Appraisal: The I-ELCAP Study

In its October 26, 2006, issue, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) study, a large clinical research study examining annual computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer in asymptomatic persons. Though the authors concluded that the screening program could save lives, and suggested that this justified screening asymptomatic populations, they offered no discussion of the shortcomings of the study. This report was accompanied by a favorable commentary containing no critique of the study's limitations, 1 and it garnered positive popular media coverage in outlets including the New York Times , CNN, and the CBS Evening News . Nevertheless, closer examination shows that the I-ELCAP study had significant limitations. Important harms of the study intervention were ignored. A careful review did not support the contention that screening for lung cancer with helical CT is clinically beneficial or that the benefits outweigh its potential harms and costs.

Critical appraisals of published studies address three questions:

  • Are the study's results valid?
  • What are the results?
  • Will the results help in caring for my patient?

We discuss here the steps of critical appraisal in more detail and use the I-ELCAP study as an example of the way in which this process can identify important flaws in a given report.

Are the Study's Results Valid?

Assessing the validity of a study's results involves addressing three issues. First, does the study ask a clearly focused clinical question ? That is, does the paper clearly define the population of interest, the nature of the intervention, the standard of care to which the intervention is being compared, and the clinical outcomes of interest? If these are not obvious, it can be difficult to determine which patients the results apply to, the nature of the change in practice that the article proposes, and whether the intervention produces effects that both physician and patient consider important.

The clinical question researched in the I-ELCAP study 2 of CT screening for lung cancer is only partly defined. Although the outcomes of interest—early detection of lung carcinomas and lung cancer mortality—are obvious and the intervention is clearly described, the article is less clear with regard to the population of interest and the standard of care. The study population was not recruited through a standardized protocol. Rather, it included anyone deemed by physicians at the participating sites to be at above-average risk for lung cancer. Nearly 12% of the sample were individuals who had never smoked nor been exposed to lung carcinogens in the workplace; these persons were included on the basis of an unspecified level of secondhand smoke exposure. It is impossible to know whether they were subjected to enough secondhand smoke to give them a lung cancer risk profile similar to that of a smoker. It is also not obvious what was considered the standard of care in the I-ELCAP study. Although it is common for screening studies to compare intervention programs with “no screening,” the lack of a comparison group in this study leaves the standard entirely implicit.

Second, is the study's design appropriate to the clinical question ? Depending on the nature of the treatment or test, some study designs may be more appropriate to the question than others. The randomized controlled trial, in which a study subject sample is randomly divided into treatment and control groups and the clinical outcomes for each group are evaluated prospectively, is the gold standard for studies of screening programs and medical therapies. 3, 4 Cohort studies, in which a single group of study subjects is studied either prospectively or at a single point in time, are better suited to assessments of diagnostic or prognostic tools 3 and are less valid when applied to screening or treatment interventions. 5 Screening evaluations conducted without a control group may overestimate the effectiveness of the program relative to standard care by ignoring the benefits of standard care. Other designs, such as nonrandomized comparative studies, retrospective studies, case series, or case reports, are rarely appropriate for studying any clinical question. 5 However, a detailed discussion of threats to validity arising within particular study designs is beyond the scope of this article.

The I-ELCAP study illustrates the importance of this point. The nature of the intervention (a population screening program) called for a randomized controlled trial design, but the study was in fact a case series. Study subjects were recruited over time; however, because the intervention was an ongoing annual screening program, the number of CT examinations they received clearly varied, and it is impossible to tell from the data presented how the number of examinations per study subject is distributed within the sample. With different study subjects receiving different “doses” of the intervention, it thus becomes impossible to interpret the average effect of screening in the study. In particular, it is unclear how to interpret the ten-year survival curves the report presents; if the proportion of study subjects with ten years of data was relatively small, the survival rates would be very sensitive to the statistical model chosen to estimate them.

The lack of a control group also poses problems. Without a comparison group drawn from the same population, it is impossible to determine whether early detection through CT screening is superior to any other practice, including no screening. Survival data in a control group of unscreened persons would allow us to determine the lead time, or the interval of time between early detection of the disease and its clinical presentation. If individuals in whom stage I lung cancer was diagnosed would have survived for any length of time in the absence of screening, the mortality benefit of CT screening would have been overstated. Interpreting this interval as life saved because of screening is known as lead-time bias. The lack of a comparable control group also raises the question of overdiagnosis; without survival data from control subjects, it cannot be known how many of the lung cancers detected in I-ELCAP would have progressed to an advanced stage.

… does the paper clearly define the population of interest, the nature of the intervention, the standard of care to which the intervention is being compared, and the clinical outcomes of interest?

The types of cancers detected in the baseline and annual screening components of the I-ELCAP study only underscore this concern. Of the cancers diagnosed at baseline, only 9 cancers (3%) were small cell cancer, 263 (70%) were adenocarcinoma, and 45 (22%) were squamous cell cancer. Small cell and squamous cell cancers are almost always due to smoking. Data from nationally representative samples of lung cancer cases generally show that 20% of lung cancers are small cell, 40% are adenocarcinoma, and 30% are squamous cell. The prognosis for adenocarcinoma is better even at stage I than the prognoses for other cell types, especially small cell. 6 The I-ELCAP study data suggest that baseline screening might have detected the slow-growing tumors that would have presented much later.

A third question is whether the study was conducted in a methodologically sound way . This point concerns the conduct of the study and whether additional biases apart from those introduced by the design might have emerged. A discussion of the numerous sources of bias, including sample selection and measurement biases, is beyond the scope of this article. In randomized controlled trials of screening programs or therapies, it is important to know whether the randomization was done properly, whether the study groups were comparable at baseline, whether investigators were blinded to group assignments, whether contamination occurred (ie, intervention or control subjects not complying with study assignment), and whether intent-to-treat analyses were performed. In any prospective study, it is important to check whether significant attrition occurred, as a high dropout rate can greatly skew results.

In the case of the I-ELCAP study, 2 these concerns are somewhat overshadowed by those raised by the lack of a randomized design. It does not appear that the study suffered from substantial attrition over time. Diagnostic workups in the study were not defined by a strict protocol (protocols were recommended to participating physicians, but the decisions were left to the physician and the patient). This might have led to variation in how a true-positive case was determined.

What Are the Results?

Apart from simply describing the study's findings, the results component of critical appraisal requires the reader to address the size of the treatment effect and the precision of the treatment-effect estimate in the case of screening or therapy evaluations. The treatment effect is often expressed as the average difference between groups on some objective outcome measure (eg, SF-36 Health Survey score) or as a relative risk or odds ratio when the outcome is dichotomous (eg, mortality). In cohort studies without a comparison group, the treatment effect is frequently estimated by the difference between baseline and follow-up measures of the outcome, though such estimates are vulnerable to bias. The standard errors or confidence intervals around these estimates are the most common measures of precision.

The results of the I-ELCAP study 2 were as follows. At the baseline screening, 4186 of 31,567 study subjects (13%) were found by CT to have nodules qualifying as positive test results; of these, 405 (10%) were found to have lung cancer. An additional five study subjects (0.015%) with negative results at the baseline CT were given a diagnosis of lung cancer at the first annual CT screening, diagnoses that were thus classified as “interim.” At the subsequent annual CT screenings (delivered 27,456 times), 1460 study subjects showed new noncalcified nodules that qualified as significant results; of these, 74 study subjects (5%) were given a diagnosis of lung cancer. Of the 484 diagnoses of lung cancer, 412 involved clinical stage I disease. Among all patients with lung cancer, the estimated ten-year survival rate was 88%; among those who underwent resection within one month of diagnosis, estimated ten-year survival was 92%. Implied by these figures (but not stated by the study authors) is that the false-positive rate at the baseline screening was 90%—and 95% during the annual screens. Most importantly, without a control group, it is impossible to estimate the size or precision of the effect of screening for lung cancer. The design of the I-ELCAP study makes it impossible to estimate lead time in the sample, which was likely substantial, and again, the different “doses” of CT screening received by different study subjects make it impossible to determine how much screening actually produces the estimated benefit.

… would my patient have met the study's inclusion criteria, and if not, is the treatment likely to be similarly effective in my patient?

Will the Results Help in Caring for My Patient?

Answering the question of whether study results help in caring for one's patients requires careful consideration of three points. First, were the study's patients similar to my patient ? That is, would my patient have met the study's inclusion criteria, and if not, is the treatment likely to be similarly effective in my patient? This question is especially salient when we are contemplating new indications for a medical therapy. In the I-ELCAP study, 2 it is unclear whether the sample was representative of high-risk patients generally; insofar as nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke were recruited into the trial, it is likely that the risk profiles of the study's subjects were heterogeneous. The I-ELCAP study found a lower proportion of noncalcified nodules (13%) than did four other chest CT studies evaluated by our group (range, 23% to 51%), suggesting that it recruited a lower-risk population than these similar studies did. Thus, the progression of disease in the presence of CT screening in the I-ELCAP study might not be comparable to disease progression in any other at-risk population, including a population of smokers.

The second point for consideration is whether all clinically important outcomes were considered . That is, did the study evaluate all outcomes that both the physician and the patient are likely to view as important? Although the I-ELCAP study did provide data on rates of early lung cancers detected and lung cancer mortality, it did not address the question of morbidity or mortality related to diagnostic workup or cancer treatment, which are of interest in this population.

Finally, physicians should consider whether the likely treatment benefits are worth the potential harms and costs . Frequently, these considerations are blunted by the enthusiasm that new technologies engender. Investigators in studies such as I-ELCAP are often reluctant to acknowledge or discuss these concerns in the context of interventions that they strongly believe to be beneficial. The I-ELCAP investigators did not report any data on or discuss morbidity related to diagnostic procedures or treatment, and they explicitly considered treatment-related deaths to have been caused by lung cancer. Insofar as prior research has demonstrated that few pulmonary nodules prove to be cancerous, and because few positive test results in the trial led to diagnoses of lung cancer, it is reasonable to wonder whether the expected benefit to patients is offset by the difficulties and risks of procedures such as thoracotomy. The study report also did not discuss the carcinogenic risk associated with diagnostic imaging procedures. Data from the National Academy of Sciences' Seventh report on health risks from exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation 7 suggest that radiation would cause 11 to 22 cases of cancer in 10,000 persons undergoing one spiral CT. This risk would be greatly increased by a strategy of annual screening via CT, which would include many additional CT and positron-emission tomography examinations performed in diagnostic follow-ups of positive screening results. Were patients given annual CT screening for all 13 years of the I-ELCAP study, they would have absorbed an estimated total effective dose of 130 to 260 mSv, which would be associated with approximately 150 to 300 cases of cancer for every 10,000 persons screened. This is particularly critical for the nonsmoking study subjects in the I-ELCAP sample, who might have been at minimal risk for lung cancer; for them, radiation from screening CTs might have posed a significant and unnecessary health hazard.

In addition to direct harms, Eddy 5 and other advocates of evidence-based critical appraisal have argued that there are indirect harms to patients when resources are spent on unnecessary or ineffective forms of care at the expense of other services. In light of such indirect harms, the balance of benefits to costs is an important consideration. The authors of I-ELCAP 2 argued that the utility and cost-effectiveness of population mammography supported lung cancer screening in asymptomatic persons. A more appropriate comparison would involve other health care interventions aimed at reducing lung cancer mortality, including patient counseling and behavioral or pharmacologic interventions aimed at smoking cessation. Moreover, the authors cite an upper-bound cost of $200 for low-dose CT as suggestive of the intervention's cost-effectiveness. Although the I-ELCAP study data do not provide enough information for a valid cost-effectiveness analysis, the data imply that the study spent nearly $13 million on screening and diagnostic CTs. The costs of biopsies, positron-emission tomography scans, surgeries, and early-stage treatments were also not considered.

… did the study evaluate all outcomes that both the physician and the patient are likely to view as important?

Using the example of a recent, high-profile study of population CT screening for lung cancer, we discussed the various considerations that constitute a critical appraisal of a clinical trial. These steps include assessments of the study's validity, the magnitude and implications of its results, and its relevance for patient care. The appraisal process may appear long or tedious, but it is important to remember that the interpretation of emerging research can have enormous clinical and operational implications. In other words, in light of the stakes, we need to be sure that we understand what a given piece of research is telling us. As our critique of the I-ELCAP study report makes clear, even high-profile studies reported in prominent journals can have important weaknesses that may not be obvious on a cursory read of an article. Clearly, few physicians have time to critically evaluate all the research coming out in their field. The Technology Assessment and Guidelines Unit located in Southern California is available to assist KP physicians in reviewing the evidence for existing and emerging medical technologies.

Acknowledgments

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf of KOK Edit provided editorial assistance.

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Essay Papers Writing Online

Ultimate guide on writing an effective evaluation essay – tips, examples, and guidelines.

How to write a evaluation essay

Are you puzzled when it comes to writing an evaluation essay? In this guide, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to master the art of crafting a compelling appraisal composition. Whether you are new to this type of writing or just looking to refine your skills, this comprehensive manual will equip you with the necessary tools and techniques to excel. From understanding the purpose and structure of an evaluation essay to exploring various tips and examples, this guide has got you covered.

An evaluation essay is a piece of writing that aims to assess the value or quality of a particular subject or phenomenon. It involves analyzing a topic, presenting your judgment or opinion on it, and providing evidence or examples to support your claims. This type of essay requires critical thinking, research, and effective communication skills to present a well-balanced evaluation.

Throughout this guide, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of writing an evaluation essay. We will start by discussing the key elements that make up a successful evaluation essay, such as establishing clear criteria, conducting thorough research, and adopting a structured approach. Additionally, we will explore practical tips and strategies to help you gather relevant information, organize your thoughts, and present a persuasive argument. To illustrate these concepts, we will provide you with a range of examples covering various topics and subjects.

Tips for Writing a Top-Notch Evaluation Essay

When it comes to crafting a high-quality evaluation essay, there are several key tips to keep in mind. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your essay stands out and effectively evaluates the subject matter at hand.

1. Be objective and unbiased: A top-notch evaluation essay should approach the topic with an unbiased and objective perspective. Avoid personal bias or overly emotional language, and instead focus on presenting an honest and well-balanced evaluation of the subject.

2. Provide clear criteria: To effectively evaluate something, it’s important to establish clear criteria or standards by which to assess it. Clearly define the criteria you will be using and explain why these specific factors are essential in evaluating the subject. This will help provide structure to your essay and ensure that your evaluation is thorough and comprehensive.

3. Support your evaluation with evidence: In order to make a convincing argument, it’s crucial to support your evaluation with solid evidence. This can include examples, statistics, expert opinions, or any other relevant information that strengthens your claims. By providing strong evidence, you can enhance the credibility of your evaluation and make it more persuasive.

4. Consider multiple perspectives: A well-rounded evaluation takes into account multiple perspectives on the subject matter. Acknowledge and address counterarguments or differing opinions, and provide thoughtful analysis and reasoning for your stance. This demonstrates critical thinking and a comprehensive evaluation of the topic.

5. Use clear and concise language: Clarity is vital in an evaluation essay. Use clear and concise language to express your thoughts and ideas, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complex vocabulary. Your essay should be accessible to a wide audience and easy to understand, allowing your evaluation to be conveyed effectively.

6. Revise and edit: Don’t neglect the importance of revising and editing your essay. Take the time to review your work and ensure that your evaluation is well-structured, coherent, and error-free. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as these details can greatly impact the overall quality of your essay.

7. Conclude with a strong summary: For a top-notch evaluation essay, it’s important to conclude with a strong and concise summary of your evaluation. Restate your main points and findings, providing a clear and memorable conclusion that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

By following these tips, you can enhance your writing skills and create a top-notch evaluation essay that effectively assesses and evaluates the subject matter at hand.

Choose a Relevant and Engaging Topic

When it comes to writing an evaluation essay, one of the most important aspects is selecting a topic that is both relevant and engaging. The topic you choose will determine the focus of your essay and greatly impact the overall quality of your writing. It is crucial to choose a topic that not only interests you but also captivates your audience.

When selecting a topic, consider the subject matter that you are knowledgeable or passionate about. This will enable you to provide a well-informed evaluation and maintain your readers’ interest throughout your essay. Additionally, choose a topic that is relevant in today’s society or has a direct impact on your target audience. This will ensure that your evaluation essay has a practical and meaningful purpose.

Furthermore, it is essential to select a topic that is controversial or debatable. This will allow you to present different perspectives and arguments to support your evaluation. By choosing a topic that sparks discussions and debates, you can engage your readers and encourage them to think critically about the subject matter.

In conclusion, choosing a relevant and engaging topic is crucial for writing an effective evaluation essay. By selecting a topic that interests you, appeals to your readers, and is relevant to society, you can ensure that your essay is engaging and impactful. Remember to choose a topic that is controversial or debatable to provide a comprehensive evaluation and encourage critical thinking among your audience.

Develop a Strong Thesis Statement

Develop a Strong Thesis Statement

Crafting an impactful thesis statement is an essential aspect of writing an evaluation essay. The thesis statement serves as the main argument or claim that you will be supporting throughout your essay. It encapsulates the central idea and sets the tone for the rest of the paper.

When developing your thesis statement, it is crucial to be clear, concise, and specific. It should provide a clear indication of your stance on the subject matter being evaluated while also highlighting the main criteria and evidence that will be discussed in the body paragraphs. A strong thesis statement should be thought-provoking and hook the reader’s attention, compelling them to continue reading.

To build a strong thesis statement, you need to engage in a careful analysis of the topic or subject being evaluated. Consider the various aspects that you will be assessing and select the most significant ones to include in your argument. Your thesis statement should be focused and arguable, allowing for a clear position on the matter.

Additionally, it is crucial to avoid vague or general statements in your thesis. Instead, aim for specificity and clarity. By clearly stating your evaluation criteria, you provide a roadmap for the reader to understand what aspects you will be analyzing and what conclusions you intend to make.

Furthermore, a strong thesis statement should be supported by evidence and examples. You should be able to provide concrete support for your evaluation through relevant facts, statistics, or expert opinions. This strengthens the credibility and persuasiveness of your argument, making your thesis statement more compelling.

In summary, developing a strong thesis statement is a critical step in writing an evaluation essay. It sets the foundation for your argument, guiding your analysis and providing a clear direction for the reader. By being clear, concise, specific, and well-supported, your thesis statement helps you create a persuasive and impactful evaluation essay.

Provide Clear and Concise Criteria for Evaluation

One of the most important aspects of writing an evaluation essay is providing clear and concise criteria for evaluation. In order to effectively evaluate a subject or topic, it is essential to establish specific standards or benchmarks that will be used to assess its performance or quality.

When establishing criteria for evaluation, it is crucial to be thorough yet succinct. Clear criteria enable the reader to understand the basis upon which the evaluation is made, while concise criteria ensure that the evaluation remains focused and impactful.

There are several strategies you can employ to provide clear and concise criteria for evaluation. One approach is to define specific attributes or characteristics that are relevant to the subject being evaluated. For example, if you are evaluating a restaurant, you might establish criteria such as the quality of the food, the level of service, and the ambience of the establishment.

Another strategy is to utilize a scoring system or rating scale to assess the subject. This can help provide a more quantitative evaluation by assigning numerical values to different aspects of the subject. For instance, a movie review might use a rating scale of 1 to 5 to evaluate the acting, plot, and cinematography of the film.

In addition to defining specific attributes or using a scoring system, it is important to provide examples or evidence to support your evaluation. This can help make your criteria more concrete and relatable to the reader. For instance, if you are evaluating a car, you could provide examples of its fuel efficiency, handling performance, and safety features.

Clear Criteria Concise Criteria
Define specific attributes Utilize a scoring system
Provide examples or evidence Ensure focus and impact

By providing clear and concise criteria for evaluation, you can effectively communicate your assessment to the reader and support your conclusions. This will help ensure that your evaluation essay is well-structured, informative, and persuasive.

Support Your Evaluation with Solid Evidence

Support Your Evaluation with Solid Evidence

When writing an evaluation essay, it is crucial to support your evaluations with solid evidence. Without proper evidence, your evaluation may appear weak and unsubstantiated. By providing strong evidence, you can convince your readers of the validity of your evaluation and make a compelling argument.

One effective way to support your evaluation is by using concrete examples. These examples can be specific instances or cases that illustrate the strengths or weaknesses of the subject being evaluated. By presenting real-life examples, you can provide tangible evidence and make your evaluation more persuasive.

Another way to support your evaluation is by referring to expert opinions or research studies. These external sources can add credibility to your evaluation and demonstrate that your assessment is based on sound knowledge and expertise. Citing respected experts or referencing reputable studies can enhance the validity of your evaluation and make it more convincing.

In addition to concrete examples and expert opinions, statistical data can also be a powerful tool for supporting your evaluation. Numbers and statistics can provide objective evidence and strengthen your evaluation by adding a quantitative dimension to your argument. By citing relevant statistics, you can add weight to your evaluations and demonstrate the magnitude of the subject’s strengths or weaknesses.

Furthermore, it is important to consider counterarguments and address them in your evaluation. By acknowledging opposing viewpoints and addressing them effectively, you can strengthen your own evaluation and demonstrate a thorough understanding of the subject. This approach shows that you have considered different perspectives and have arrived at a well-rounded evaluation.

In conclusion, supporting your evaluation with solid evidence is essential to writing a persuasive evaluation essay. By using concrete examples, expert opinions, statistical data, and addressing counterarguments, you can bolster the validity and strength of your evaluation. Remember to present your evidence clearly and logically, making your evaluation more compelling and convincing to your readers.

Use a Structured Format to Organize Your Essay

When writing an evaluation essay, it is important to use a structured format to organize your thoughts and arguments. This will help you present your ideas in a clear and logical manner, making it easier for your reader to follow along and understand your points. By using a structured format, you can ensure that your essay flows smoothly and effectively communicates your evaluation.

One effective way to structure your evaluation essay is to use a table format. This allows you to present your evaluation criteria and supporting evidence in a concise and organized manner. By using a table, you can easily compare and contrast different aspects of the subject being evaluated, making it easier for your reader to grasp the overall evaluation.

Aspect Evaluation Criteria Supporting Evidence
Plot Engaging and well-developed storyline Strong character development and unexpected plot twists
Acting Convincing and compelling performances Emotional depth and believable portrayal of characters
Visuals Stunning cinematography and visually appealing scenes Beautiful set designs and attention to detail

In addition to using a table format, you should also follow a logical structure within each section of your essay. Start with a clear introduction, where you introduce the subject you are evaluating and provide some background information. Then, present your evaluation criteria and explain why these criteria are important for assessing the subject. Next, provide specific examples and evidence to support your evaluation, using the table format as a guide. Finally, end your essay with a strong conclusion that summarizes your evaluation and reinforces your main points.

By using a structured format, you can effectively organize your evaluation essay and present your ideas in a clear and concise manner. This will make your essay more engaging and persuasive, and help your reader understand and appreciate your evaluation.

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33 Critical Analysis Examples

33 Critical Analysis Examples

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

Learn about our Editorial Process

critical analysis examples and definition, explained below

Critical analysis refers to the ability to examine something in detail in preparation to make an evaluation or judgment.

It will involve exploring underlying assumptions, theories, arguments, evidence, logic, biases, contextual factors, and so forth, that could help shed more light on the topic.

In essay writing, a critical analysis essay will involve using a range of analytical skills to explore a topic, such as:

  • Evaluating sources
  • Exploring strengths and weaknesses
  • Exploring pros and cons
  • Questioning and challenging ideas
  • Comparing and contrasting ideas

If you’re writing an essay, you could also watch my guide on how to write a critical analysis essay below, and don’t forget to grab your worksheets and critical analysis essay plan to save yourself a ton of time:

Grab your Critical Analysis Worksheets and Essay Plan Here

chris

Critical Analysis Examples

1. exploring strengths and weaknesses.

Perhaps the first and most straightforward method of critical analysis is to create a simple strengths-vs-weaknesses comparison.

Most things have both strengths and weaknesses – you could even do this for yourself! What are your strengths? Maybe you’re kind or good at sports or good with children. What are your weaknesses? Maybe you struggle with essay writing or concentration.

If you can analyze your own strengths and weaknesses, then you understand the concept. What might be the strengths and weaknesses of the idea you’re hoping to critically analyze?

Strengths and weaknesses could include:

  • Does it seem highly ethical (strength) or could it be more ethical (weakness)?
  • Is it clearly explained (strength) or complex and lacking logical structure (weakness)?
  • Does it seem balanced (strength) or biased (weakness)?

You may consider using a SWOT analysis for this step. I’ve provided a SWOT analysis guide here .

2. Evaluating Sources

Evaluation of sources refers to looking at whether a source is reliable or unreliable.

This is a fundamental media literacy skill .

Steps involved in evaluating sources include asking questions like:

  • Who is the author and are they trustworthy?
  • Is this written by an expert?
  • Is this sufficiently reviewed by an expert?
  • Is this published in a trustworthy publication?
  • Are the arguments sound or common sense?

For more on this topic, I’d recommend my detailed guide on digital literacy .

3. Identifying Similarities

Identifying similarities encompasses the act of drawing parallels between elements, concepts, or issues.

In critical analysis, it’s common to compare a given article, idea, or theory to another one. In this way, you can identify areas in which they are alike.

Determining similarities can be a challenge, but it’s an intellectual exercise that fosters a greater understanding of the aspects you’re studying. This step often calls for a careful reading and note-taking to highlight matching information, points of view, arguments or even suggested solutions.

Similarities might be found in:

  • The key themes or topics discussed
  • The theories or principles used
  • The demographic the work is written for or about
  • The solutions or recommendations proposed

Remember, the intention of identifying similarities is not to prove one right or wrong. Rather, it sets the foundation for understanding the larger context of your analysis, anchoring your arguments in a broader spectrum of ideas.

Your critical analysis strengthens when you can see the patterns and connections across different works or topics. It fosters a more comprehensive, insightful perspective. And importantly, it is a stepping stone in your analysis journey towards evaluating differences, which is equally imperative and insightful in any analysis.

4. Identifying Differences

Identifying differences involves pinpointing the unique aspects, viewpoints or solutions introduced by the text you’re analyzing. How does it stand out as different from other texts?

To do this, you’ll need to compare this text to another text.

Differences can be revealed in:

  • The potential applications of each idea
  • The time, context, or place in which the elements were conceived or implemented
  • The available evidence each element uses to support its ideas
  • The perspectives of authors
  • The conclusions reached

Identifying differences helps to reveal the multiplicity of perspectives and approaches on a given topic. Doing so provides a more in-depth, nuanced understanding of the field or issue you’re exploring.

This deeper understanding can greatly enhance your overall critique of the text you’re looking at. As such, learning to identify both similarities and differences is an essential skill for effective critical analysis.

My favorite tool for identifying similarities and differences is a Venn Diagram:

venn diagram

To use a venn diagram, title each circle for two different texts. Then, place similarities in the overlapping area of the circles, while unique characteristics (differences) of each text in the non-overlapping parts.

6. Identifying Oversights

Identifying oversights entails pointing out what the author missed, overlooked, or neglected in their work.

Almost every written work, no matter the expertise or meticulousness of the author, contains oversights. These omissions can be absent-minded mistakes or gaps in the argument, stemming from a lack of knowledge, foresight, or attentiveness.

Such gaps can be found in:

  • Missed opportunities to counter or address opposing views
  • Failure to consider certain relevant aspects or perspectives
  • Incomplete or insufficient data that leaves the argument weak
  • Failing to address potential criticism or counter-arguments

By shining a light on these weaknesses, you increase the depth and breadth of your critical analysis. It helps you to estimate the full worth of the text, understand its limitations, and contextualize it within the broader landscape of related work. Ultimately, noticing these oversights helps to make your analysis more balanced and considerate of the full complexity of the topic at hand.

You may notice here that identifying oversights requires you to already have a broad understanding and knowledge of the topic in the first place – so, study up!

7. Fact Checking

Fact-checking refers to the process of meticulously verifying the truth and accuracy of the data, statements, or claims put forward in a text.

Fact-checking serves as the bulwark against misinformation, bias, and unsubstantiated claims. It demands thorough research, resourcefulness, and a keen eye for detail.

Fact-checking goes beyond surface-level assertions:

  • Examining the validity of the data given
  • Cross-referencing information with other reliable sources
  • Scrutinizing references, citations, and sources utilized in the article
  • Distinguishing between opinion and objectively verifiable truths
  • Checking for outdated, biased, or unbalanced information

If you identify factual errors, it’s vital to highlight them when critically analyzing the text. But remember, you could also (after careful scrutiny) also highlight that the text appears to be factually correct – that, too, is critical analysis.

8. Exploring Counterexamples

Exploring counterexamples involves searching and presenting instances or cases which contradict the arguments or conclusions presented in a text.

Counterexamples are an effective way to challenge the generalizations, assumptions or conclusions made in an article or theory. They can reveal weaknesses or oversights in the logic or validity of the author’s perspective.

Considerations in counterexample analysis are:

  • Identifying generalizations made in the text
  • Seeking examples in academic literature or real-world instances that contradict these generalizations
  • Assessing the impact of these counterexamples on the validity of the text’s argument or conclusion

Exploring counterexamples enriches your critical analysis by injecting an extra layer of scrutiny, and even doubt, in the text.

By presenting counterexamples, you not only test the resilience and validity of the text but also open up new avenues of discussion and investigation that can further your understanding of the topic.

See Also: Counterargument Examples

9. Assessing Methodologies

Assessing methodologies entails examining the techniques, tools, or procedures employed by the author to collect, analyze and present their information.

The accuracy and validity of a text’s conclusions often depend on the credibility and appropriateness of the methodologies used.

Aspects to inspect include:

  • The appropriateness of the research method for the research question
  • The adequacy of the sample size
  • The validity and reliability of data collection instruments
  • The application of statistical tests and evaluations
  • The implementation of controls to prevent bias or mitigate its impact

One strategy you could implement here is to consider a range of other methodologies the author could have used. If the author conducted interviews, consider questioning why they didn’t use broad surveys that could have presented more quantitative findings. If they only interviewed people with one perspective, consider questioning why they didn’t interview a wider variety of people, etc.

See Also: A List of Research Methodologies

10. Exploring Alternative Explanations

Exploring alternative explanations refers to the practice of proposing differing or opposing ideas to those put forward in the text.

An underlying assumption in any analysis is that there may be multiple valid perspectives on a single topic. The text you’re analyzing might provide one perspective, but your job is to bring into the light other reasonable explanations or interpretations.

Cultivating alternative explanations often involves:

  • Formulating hypotheses or theories that differ from those presented in the text
  • Referring to other established ideas or models that offer a differing viewpoint
  • Suggesting a new or unique angle to interpret the data or phenomenon discussed in the text

Searching for alternative explanations challenges the authority of a singular narrative or perspective, fostering an environment ripe for intellectual discourse and critical thinking . It nudges you to examine the topic from multiple angles, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of the complexity inherent in the field.

A Full List of Critical Analysis Skills

  • Exploring Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Identifying Similarities
  • Identifying Differences
  • Identifying Biases
  • Hypothesis Testing
  • Fact-Checking
  • Exploring Counterexamples
  • Assessing Methodologies
  • Exploring Alternative Explanations
  • Pointing Out Contradictions
  • Challenging the Significance
  • Cause-And-Effect Analysis
  • Assessing Generalizability
  • Highlighting Inconsistencies
  • Reductio ad Absurdum
  • Comparing to Expert Testimony
  • Comparing to Precedent
  • Reframing the Argument
  • Pointing Out Fallacies
  • Questioning the Ethics
  • Clarifying Definitions
  • Challenging Assumptions
  • Exposing Oversimplifications
  • Highlighting Missing Information
  • Demonstrating Irrelevance
  • Assessing Effectiveness
  • Assessing Trustworthiness
  • Recognizing Patterns
  • Differentiating Facts from Opinions
  • Analyzing Perspectives
  • Prioritization
  • Making Predictions
  • Conducting a SWOT Analysis
  • PESTLE Analysis
  • Asking the Five Whys
  • Correlating Data Points
  • Finding Anomalies Or Outliers
  • Comparing to Expert Literature
  • Drawing Inferences
  • Assessing Validity & Reliability

Analysis and Bloom’s Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom placed analysis as the third-highest form of thinking on his ladder of cognitive skills called Bloom’s Taxonomy .

This taxonomy starts with the lowest levels of thinking – remembering and understanding. The further we go up the ladder, the more we reach higher-order thinking skills that demonstrate depth of understanding and knowledge, as outlined below:

blooms taxonomy, explained below

Here’s a full outline of the taxonomy in a table format:

Level (Shallow to Deep)DescriptionExamples
Retain and recall informationReiterate, memorize, duplicate, repeat, identify
Grasp the meaning of somethingExplain, paraphrase, report, describe, summarize
Use existing knowledge in new contextsPractice, calculate, implement, operate, use, illustrate
Explore relationships, causes, and connectionsCompare, contrast, categorize, organize, distinguish
Make judgments based on sound analysisAssess, judge, defend, prioritize,  , recommend
Use existing information to make something newInvent, develop, design, compose, generate, construct

Chris

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd-2/ 15 Body Language Signs He Likes You
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  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd-2/ 24 Steiner-Waldorf Classroom Design Ideas

2 thoughts on “33 Critical Analysis Examples”

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THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! – I cannot even being to explain how hard it has been to find a simple but in-depth understanding of what ‘Critical Analysis’ is. I have looked at over 10 different pages and went down so many rabbit holes but this is brilliant! I only skimmed through the article but it was already promising, I then went back and read it more in-depth, it just all clicked into place. So thank you again!

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You’re welcome – so glad it was helpful.

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Structure of a Critical Review

Critical reviews, both short (one page) and long (four pages), usually have a similar structure. Check your assignment instructions for formatting and structural specifications. Headings are usually optional for longer reviews and can be helpful for the reader.

Introduction

The length of an introduction is usually one paragraph for a journal article review and two or three paragraphs for a longer book review. Include a few opening sentences that announce the author(s) and the title, and briefly explain the topic of the text. Present the aim of the text and summarise the main finding or key argument. Conclude the introduction with a brief statement of your evaluation of the text. This can be a positive or negative evaluation or, as is usually the case, a mixed response.

Present a summary of the key points along with a limited number of examples. You can also briefly explain the author’s purpose/intentions throughout the text and you may briefly describe how the text is organised. The summary should only make up about a third of the critical review.

The critique should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of the strengths, weakness and notable features of the text. Remember to base your discussion on specific criteria. Good reviews also include other sources to support your evaluation (remember to reference).

You can choose how to sequence your critique. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Most important to least important conclusions you make about the text.
  • If your critique is more positive than negative, then present the negative points first and the positive last.
  • If your critique is more negative than positive, then present the positive points first and the negative last.
  • If there are both strengths and weakness for each criterion you use, you need to decide overall what your judgement is. For example, you may want to comment on a key idea in the text and have both positive and negative comments. You could begin by stating what is good about the idea and then concede and explain how it is limited in some way. While this example shows a mixed evaluation, overall you are probably being more negative than positive.
  • In long reviews, you can address each criterion you choose in a paragraph, including both negative and positive points. For very short critical reviews (one page or less), where your comments will be briefer, include a paragraph of positive aspects  and another of negative.
  • You can also include recommendations for how the text can be improved in terms of ideas, research approach; theories or frameworks used can also be included in the critique section.

Conclusion & References

This is usually a very short paragraph.

  • Restate your overall opinion of the text.
  • Briefly present recommendations.
  • If necessary, some further qualification or explanation of your judgement can be included. This can help your critique sound fair and reasonable.

If you have used other sources in you review you should also include a list of references at the end of the review.

Summarising and paraphrasing for the critical review

The best way to summarise

  • Scan the text. Look for information that can be deduced from the introduction, conclusion, title, and headings. What do these tell you about the main points of the article?
  • Locate the topic sentences and highlight the main points as you read.
  • Reread the text and make separate notes of the main points. Examples and evidence do not need to be included at this stage. Usually they are used selectively in your critique.

Paraphrasing means putting it into your own words. Paraphrasing offers an alternative to using direct quotations in your summary (and the critique) and can be an efficient way to integrate your summary notes.

The best way to paraphrase

  • Review your summary notes
  • Rewrite them in your own words and in complete sentences
  • Use reporting verbs and phrases, e.g. 'The author describes…', 'Smith argues that …'.
  • Use quotation marks if If you include unique or specialist phrases from the text.

  Next: Some general criteria for evaluating texts

Essay and assignment writing guide.

  • Essay writing basics
  • Essay and assignment planning
  • Answering assignment questions
  • Editing checklist
  • Structure of a critical review
  • General criteria for evaluating
  • Sample extracts
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Reflective writing
  • ^ More support

Study Hacks Workshops | All the hacks you need! 28 May – 25 Jul 2024

Examples

Self-Appraisal Comments by Employee

Ai generator.

example of critical appraisal essay

Performance appraisal is a crucial process in any organization, serving as a comprehensive evaluation of an employee’s job performance over a specific period. Employee self-appraisal is an integral part of this process, allowing individuals to reflect on their achievements, areas for improvement, and career aspirations. Through thoughtful performance review comments , employees can provide valuable insights into their work, fostering a culture of transparency and continuous growth. Effective self-appraisal comments not only highlight accomplishments but also demonstrate a commitment to personal and professional development.

What is Self-Appraisal Comments by Employee?

Self-appraisal comments by an employee are personal evaluations and reflections on their own job performance, achievements, and areas for improvement, typically shared during performance reviews.

Examples of Self-Appraisal Comments by Employee

Examples-of-Self-Appraisal-Comments-by-Employee

Performance and Productivity

  • Achievement: “I consistently met and exceeded my sales targets this quarter, resulting in a 20% increase in revenue.”
  • Efficiency: “I streamlined the project management process, reducing completion time by 15%.”
  • Quality: “My attention to detail ensured that our deliverables were free of errors and met all client specifications.”
  • Adaptability: “I successfully managed multiple projects simultaneously, demonstrating strong multitasking abilities.”
  • Initiative: “I took the lead on the new marketing campaign, which increased our social media engagement by 30%.”
  • Problem-Solving: “I identified and resolved a recurring issue in our inventory system, improving stock accuracy by 25%.”
  • Innovation: “I introduced a new software tool that enhanced team collaboration and productivity.”
  • Punctuality: “I consistently met all deadlines, ensuring that our projects were completed on time.”
  • Work Ethic: “My dedication to my role is evident in my willingness to work overtime to meet critical deadlines.”
  • Technical Skills: “I improved my proficiency in [specific software/tool], which contributed to more efficient project execution.”

Communication and Collaboration

  • Teamwork: “I effectively collaborated with team members, resulting in successful project outcomes.”
  • Communication: “My clear and concise communication helped prevent misunderstandings and ensured smooth project execution.”
  • Listening: “I actively listened to colleagues’ feedback and incorporated their suggestions into our projects.”
  • Conflict Resolution: “I effectively mediated conflicts within the team, fostering a positive work environment.”
  • Networking: “I built strong relationships with key stakeholders, enhancing our project’s visibility and support.”
  • Mentorship: “I provided guidance and support to junior team members, helping them develop their skills.”
  • Feedback: “I consistently provided constructive feedback to colleagues, contributing to their professional growth.”
  • Presentation Skills: “My presentations were well-organized and effectively communicated key points to the audience.”
  • Customer Service: “I maintained positive relationships with clients, ensuring their satisfaction with our services.”
  • Cross-Departmental Collaboration: “I successfully coordinated efforts between different departments to achieve our project goals.”

Leadership and Management

  • Leadership: “I effectively led my team through challenging projects, ensuring successful outcomes.”
  • Decision-Making: “I made informed decisions that positively impacted our project’s progress and success.”
  • Delegation: “I delegated tasks appropriately, leveraging team members’ strengths to achieve our objectives.”
  • Motivation: “I motivated my team to achieve high performance, resulting in a 10% increase in productivity.”
  • Vision: “I developed a clear vision for our project, aligning team efforts towards common goals.”
  • Strategic Planning: “I created and executed strategic plans that contributed to the long-term success of our projects.”
  • Crisis Management: “I effectively managed crises, minimizing their impact on our project timelines.”
  • Resource Management: “I efficiently allocated resources, ensuring that our projects were completed within budget.”
  • Coaching: “I provided valuable coaching to team members, helping them enhance their skills and performance.”
  • Recognition: “I consistently recognized and celebrated team members’ achievements, boosting morale and motivation.”

Professional Development and Growth

  • Learning: “I actively sought out learning opportunities to enhance my skills and knowledge.”
  • Certifications: “I earned [specific certification], which has enhanced my expertise in [relevant area].”
  • Goal Setting: “I set and achieved professional development goals that contributed to my career growth.”
  • Self-Improvement: “I consistently sought feedback and made improvements to enhance my performance.”
  • Adaptability: “I quickly adapted to new challenges and changes in our work environment.”
  • Time Management: “I improved my time management skills, allowing me to complete tasks more efficiently.”
  • Networking: “I expanded my professional network, which has opened up new opportunities for collaboration.”
  • Work-Life Balance: “I maintained a healthy work-life balance, which has improved my overall productivity and well-being.”
  • Professionalism: “I consistently demonstrated professionalism in all interactions with colleagues and clients.”
  • Career Progression: “I took on additional responsibilities that have prepared me for future leadership roles.”

Areas for Improvement

  • Communication: “I aim to improve my communication skills to ensure clearer and more effective interactions with colleagues.”
  • Technical Skills: “I plan to enhance my proficiency in [specific software/tool] to contribute more effectively to our projects.”
  • Time Management: “I will work on better prioritizing tasks to ensure timely completion of all assignments.”
  • Public Speaking: “I am committed to improving my public speaking skills to deliver more impactful presentations.”
  • Delegation: “I aim to delegate tasks more effectively to empower my team and enhance productivity.”
  • Stress Management: “I will develop better stress management techniques to maintain high performance under pressure.”
  • Feedback: “I plan to seek more feedback from colleagues to continuously improve my performance.”
  • Networking: “I aim to build stronger relationships with industry professionals to enhance our project’s success.”
  • Leadership: “I will work on developing my leadership skills to take on more significant roles within the team.”
  • Innovation: “I plan to foster a more innovative mindset to contribute fresh ideas and solutions to our projects.”

How to give Self-Appraisal Reviews?

1. prepare in advance.

  • Gather Documentation: Collect any relevant documents, such as performance reports, project summaries, feedback from colleagues, and emails that highlight your contributions.
  • Review Job Description: Revisit your job description to ensure your self-appraisal aligns with your roles and responsibilities.

2. Reflect on Your Performance

  • Assess Achievements: Identify your key accomplishments over the appraisal period. Focus on specific, measurable outcomes.
  • Evaluate Areas for Improvement: Consider any challenges you faced and areas where you can enhance your skills or performance.

3. Be Honest and Objective

  • Balanced View: Provide a balanced view of your performance, highlighting both strengths and areas for growth.
  • Specific Examples: Use specific examples to illustrate your points. Quantify your achievements wherever possible.

4. Use a Structured Format

  • Introduction: Begin with a brief overview of your appraisal period, mentioning any significant projects or responsibilities.
  • Achievements: Detail your major accomplishments, focusing on their impact on the team or organization.
  • Challenges: Discuss any challenges you encountered and how you addressed them.
  • Goals: Outline your professional development goals and plans for the future.

5. Highlight Key Competencies

  • Skills and Abilities: Emphasize the skills and abilities that are most relevant to your role.
  • Professional Growth: Mention any new skills you have acquired and how they have contributed to your performance.

6. Seek Feedback

  • Collaboration: Highlight any feedback you received from colleagues, supervisors, or clients and how you incorporated it into your work.
  • Improvement: Mention how you plan to seek further feedback to continue improving your performance.

7. Be Professional

  • Positive Tone: Maintain a positive and professional tone throughout your self-appraisal.
  • Constructive Language: Use constructive language when discussing areas for improvement, focusing on solutions and growth opportunities.

8. Set Future Goals

  • Short-term Goals: Set achievable short-term goals that align with your current role and responsibilities.
  • Long-term Goals: Identify long-term career aspirations and the steps you plan to take to achieve them.

Purpose of Self-Appraisal Comments by Employee

1. self-reflection.

  • Personal Insight: Employees reflect on their own performance, gaining insights into their strengths and areas for improvement.

2. Enhanced Communication

  • Dialogue Starter: Self-appraisal comments open the door for meaningful conversations between employees and supervisors.

3. Employee Engagement

  • Empowerment: Involving employees in the appraisal process makes them feel valued and engaged.

4. Goal Setting and Planning

  • Future Goals: Employees can outline their career aspirations and set future goals in alignment with their self-assessment.

5. Performance Documentation

  • Record of Achievements: Self-appraisals provide a documented record of an employee’s achievements and contributions over a specific period.

6. Improved Performance Reviews

  • Balanced Evaluation: Including Employee Self-Appraisal comments ensures a more balanced and comprehensive performance review process.

7. Alignment with Organizational Goals

  • Goal Alignment: Self-appraisal helps ensure that individual performance aligns with the organization’s objectives and goals.

Why are self-appraisal comments important?

They are important because they enhance communication during performance reviews and allow employees to take an active role in their own performance evaluation.

How can I write effective self-appraisal comments?

Be honest, specific, and use examples. Highlight your achievements and areas for growth to provide a balanced self-review during your employee performance evaluation.

Should self-appraisal comments focus only on achievements?

No, they should also address challenges and areas for improvement. This ensures a comprehensive self-review and helps in personal development.

How do self-appraisal comments benefit the organization?

They provide valuable insights for managers during performance reviews, helping to align employee goals with organizational objectives and improve overall employee performance evaluation .

Can self-appraisal comments impact my career growth?

Yes, well-crafted self-review comments can highlight your strengths and readiness for new opportunities during performance evaluations, aiding career advancement.

How often should I write self-appraisal comments?

Typically, self-appraisals are written annually or semi-annually, aligning with your organization’s performance review schedule.

What should I avoid in self-appraisal comments?

Avoid vague statements and negativity. Focus on specific examples and maintain a constructive tone to make your performance review productive.

Can self-appraisal comments be used for setting future goals?

Yes, they are an excellent tool for identifying areas for growth and setting actionable goals during employee performance evaluations.

How detailed should my self-appraisal comments be?

Provide enough detail to give a clear picture of your performance, but be concise. Balance is key for an effective self-review .

Can self-appraisal comments help with identifying training needs?

Yes, they can highlight areas where you need further development, which can be addressed in your performance review and training plans.

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  1. PDF Critical appraisal of a journal article

    Critical appraisal of a journal article 1. Introduction to 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) Critical appraisal is an important element of evidence-based medicine.

  2. Critical Appraisal of a Qualitative Journal Article

    This essay critically appraises a research article on clinical handover in the trauma setting, using CASP and Bellini & Rumrill guidelines. It evaluates the aims, methods, results, analysis and limitations of the study, and identifies some issues with the research design and sampling.

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    Learn the structure, criteria, and key phrases for writing a critical appraisal of a research article. A critical appraisal is an academic approach that evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of a work's research findings.

  4. The fundamentals of critically appraising an article

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  5. A guide to critical appraisal of evidence : Nursing2020 Critical Care

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  6. Critical Appraisal for Health Students

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  7. Critical Appraisal: A Checklist

    Critical appraisal of a journal article is a literary and scientific systematic dissection in an attempt to assign merit to the conclusions of an article. Ideally, an article will be able to undergo scrutiny and retain its findings as valid. The specific questions used to assess validity change slightly with different study designs and article ...

  8. Full article: Critical appraisal

    What is critical appraisal? Critical appraisal involves a careful and systematic assessment of a study's trustworthiness or rigour (Booth et al., Citation 2016).A well-conducted critical appraisal: (a) is an explicit systematic, rather than an implicit haphazard, process; (b) involves judging a study on its methodological, ethical, and theoretical quality, and (c) is enhanced by a reviewer ...

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  10. (PDF) How to critically appraise an article

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  11. PDF Planning and writing a critical review

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  12. LibGuides: Medicine: A Brief Guide to Critical Appraisal

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    Critical appraisal allows us to: reduce information overload by eliminating irrelevant or weak studies. identify the most relevant papers. distinguish evidence from opinion, assumptions, misreporting, and belief. assess the validity of the study. assess the usefulness and clinical applicability of the study. recognise any potential for bias.

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    How to use this practical example Using the framework, you can have a go at appraising a quantitative paper - we are going to look at the following article: Marrero, D.G. et al (2016) 'Comparison of commercial and self-initiated weight loss programs in people with prediabetes: a randomized control trial', AJPH Research , 106(5), pp. 949-956.

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    Critical Appraisal: The I-ELCAP Study. In its October 26, 2006, issue, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of the International Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP) study, a large clinical research study examining annual computed tomography (CT) screening for lung cancer in asymptomatic persons. Though the authors concluded that the screening program could save ...

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    Use clear and concise language: Clarity is vital in an evaluation essay. Use clear and concise language to express your thoughts and ideas, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complex vocabulary. Your essay should be accessible to a wide audience and easy to understand, allowing your evaluation to be conveyed effectively. 6.

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    1192 Words5 Pages. INTRODUCTION The purpose of this essay is to conduct a comprehensive critical appraisal of a research paper titled 'Chloramphenicol treatment for acute infective conjunctivitis in children in primary care' that was carried out by Rose et al. (2005) in the United Kingdom (UK). The aim of evaluation is to critically ...

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    Summarising and paraphrasing are essential skills for academic writing and in particular, the critical review. To summarise means to reduce a text to its main points and its most important ideas. The length of your summary for a critical review should only be about one quarter to one third of the whole critical review. The best way to summarise.

  24. Self-Appraisal Comments by Employee

    Purpose of Self-Appraisal Comments by Employee 1. Self-Reflection. Personal Insight: Employees reflect on their own performance, gaining insights into their strengths and areas for improvement. 2. Enhanced Communication. Dialogue Starter: Self-appraisal comments open the door for meaningful conversations between employees and supervisors. 3.