Critical Appraisal Resources


Background to Critically Appraised Evidence

Critical appraisal is a process within the evidence-based medicine model that involves a systematic evaluation of research to determine its quality.  The critical appraisal of evidence gives readers the opportunity to identify the risk of bias in a selected study and apply a systematic analysis to ensure that biases have not influenced the research results in any meaningful way.

Critical appraisal also provides readers with the opportunity to evaluate results of a study for their applicability in other, and potentially more relevant, settings. 

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Tools for Reviewers

After screening, reviewers can use the following tools to assess the risk of bias and other quality-related factors for studies that will be included in the systematic review.
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Instruments and Reporting Guidelines for Authors

Reporting guidelines are tools to identify methodological weaknesses and promote transparency. They are not intended to dictate the design of a study or the conduct of investigators. These guidelines offer recommended frameworks for investigators to consider as they report their research.  
The following reporting guidelines are organized by study type. Many of these initiatives are ongoing processes and periodically updated.

Randomized Controlled Trials

Observational Studies 

Systematic Reviews

Quality Improvement Studies

Diagnostic/Prognostic Studies

Qualitative Research

Find more reporting guidelines

  • EQUATOR network - Access to over 300 reporting guidelines.

  • SIGN Critical Appraisal: Notes and Checklist - Appraisal tools for systematic reviews and meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials, as well as cohort, case-control, diagnostic, and economic studies from the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.
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Critically Appraised Summary Resources

The following links connect you to critical appraisal tools for resources that summarize multiple studies.

Clinical Practice Guidelines Appraisal Tool

  • AGREE II Instrument - The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) Instrument addresses the quality of practice guidelines. 

Additional Tools for Synthesized Reports

  • the NNT - Brief summaries of NNT “Number-Needed-to-Treat” based on critical appraisal of systematic reviews related to therapy or diagnosis studies. 
  • ACP Journal Club - Summaries of evidence from over 130 clinical journals. Published by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.
  • EvidenceUpdates - Access to articles from over 110 clinical journals that have been critically appraised by a panel of practicing physicians. Includes a searchable database and email alerts option. From BMJ Publishing Group and McMaster University's Health Information Research Unit. 
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Additional Resources

Online Calculators

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Updated: April 17th, 2018 12:17