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Critical Appraisal

Use this guide to find information resources about critical appraisal including checklists, books and journal articles.

Last updated: 08/02/2024

Key Resources

Bedford D (2018) Anatomy of a journal article.
  • This online resource explains the sections commonly used in research articles. Understanding how research articles are organised can make reading and evaluating them easier
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Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP)
Centre for Evidence Based Medicine: Critical appraisal tools
  • Worksheets for appraising systematic reviews, diagnostics, prognostics and RCTs.
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Cochrane: Evidence essentials
  • A free online resource for both healthcare staff and patients; four modules of 30–45 minutes provide an introduction to evidence based medicine, clinical trials and Cochrane Evidence.
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Joanna Briggs Institute: Critical appraisal tools
MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow (no date) Understanding Health Research.
  • This tool will guide you through a series of questions to help you to review and interpret a published health research paper.
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PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis)
  • The PRISMA flow diagram depicts the flow of information through the different phases of a literature review. It maps out the number of records identified, included and excluded, and the reasons for exclusions.
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The Campbell Collaboration: Methodological Expectations of Campbell Collaboration Intervention Reviews (MECCIR)
  • A useful resource for methods and evidence in applied social science.
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The Equator Network
  • A comprehensive database of reporting guidelines. Covers all the main study types.
    View page
  • A tool to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews.
    View page


Book cover Aveyard H, Preston N and Farquhar M (2022) How to read and critique research: a guide for nursing and healthcare students. London: SAGE.
Book cover Aveyard H (2023) Doing a literature review in health and social care: a practical guide. 5th edn. London: Open University Press.
book cover Booth A, Sutton A, Clowes M and Martyn-St James M (2022) Systematic approaches to a successful literature review. 3rd edn. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Book cover Bootland D and others (2016) Critical appraisal from papers to patient: a practical guide. London: CRC Press.
  • Section 1 covers an introduction to critical appraisal. Section 3 covers appraising difference types of papers including qualitative papers and observational studies.
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Book cover Coughlan M and Cronin P (2020) Doing a literature review in nursing, health and social care. 3rd edn. Los Angeles: Sage. 
Book cover Elwood M (2017) Critical appraisal of epidemiological studies and clinical trials. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Book cover Gerrish K, and Lathlean J (2015) The research process in nursing. 7th edn. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.
Book cover Greenhalgh T (2019) How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine and healthcare. 6th edn. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons.
Book cover Gray J R and Grove S K (2020) Burns and Grove’s the practice of nursing research: appraisal, synthesis and generation of evidence. 9th edn. Philadelphia: Saunders. 
Book cover Linsley P, Kane R and Barker J (2022) Evidence-based practice for nurses and allied health professionals. 5th edn. Los Angeles: Sage.
Book cover LoBiondo-Wood G and Haber J (2022) Nursing research: methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice. 10th edn. St. Louis: Elsevier.
Book cover Schmidt N and Brown J (2022) Evidence-based practice for nurses: appraisal and application of research. 3rd edn. Burlington: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Book subject search

Use this link to see details of books the RCN libraries hold on this topic.

Journal articles

Moorley C and Cathala X (2019) How to appraise mixed methods research, Evidence-Based Nursing, 22(2), pp. 38–41.
Moorley C and Cathala X (2019) How to appraise qualitative research, Evidence-Based Nursing, 22(1), pp. 10–13.
Cathala X and Moorley C (2018) How to appraise quantitative research, Evidence-Based Nursing, 21(4), pp. 99–101.
Buccheri RK and Sharifi C (2017) Critical appraisal tools and reporting guidelines for evidence‐based practice, Worldviews on Evidence‐Based Nursing, 14(6), pp. 463-472.
Connelly LM (2016) Trustworthiness in qualitative research. (Understanding research), MedSurg Nursing, 25 (6), pp.435-436.
Fineout-Overholt E, Melnyk BM, Stillwell SB and Williamson KM (2010) Critical appraisal of the evidence: part I. An introduction to gathering, evaluating and recording the evidence, American Journal of Nursing, 110 (7), pp.47-52.
Fineout-Overholt E, Melnyk BM, Stillwell, SB and Williamson KM (2010) Critical appraisal of the evidence: part II. Digging deeper—examining the "keeper" studies, American Journal of Nursing, 110 (9), pp. 41-48.
Fineout-Overholt E, Melnyk BM, Stillwell SB and Williamson KM (2010) Critical appraisal of the evidence: Part III. The process of synthesis: seeing similarities and differences across the body of evidence, American Journal of Nursing, 110 (11), pp. 43-51.
Heale R and Twycross A (2015) Validity and reliability in quantitative studies, Evidence-Based Nursing, 18 (3), pp.66-67.
Myers G and Levin RF (2012) "Can you touch your toes? Using tables of evidence (TOES) to organize your evidence review", Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, 26 (4), pp.238-240.
Noble H and Smith J (2015) Issues of validity and reliability in qualitative research", Evidence-Based Nursing, 18 (2), pp.34-35

Shea BJ and others (2017) AMSTAR 2: a critical appraisal tool for systematic reviews that include randomised or non-randomised studies of healthcare interventions or both, British Medical Journal, 358.

Smith J and Noble H (2014) Bias in research, Evidence-Based Nursing, 17 (4), pp. 100-101.
Smith J and Noble H (2016) Reviewing the literature, Evidence-Based Nursing, 19 (1), pp. 2-3.
Stonehouse D (2016) Evidence-based practice: knowing what's good or bad, British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 10 (4), pp. 199-201.
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Page last updated - 08/02/2024