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Research Tips: Appraising the Evidence

Research tips, support, strategies and FAQs

Appraising the Evidence

Appraising the Evidence

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


The following resources will help you:

  • Decide whether specific studies have been undertaken in a way that makes their findings reliable.
  • Make sense of the results.
  • Know what these results mean in the context of the decision that needs to be made.


Critically Appraising Evidence for Healthcare JBI eBook

Synthesizing Quantitative Evidence JBI eBook


Practice Guidelines

Practice Guideline Critical Appraisal Worksheet - Duke University


Systematic Reviews

Inclusion Criteria  McMaster University guide to inclusion criteria for systematic reviews.

Anatomy of a Systematic Review National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (Canada)

CASP critical appraisal of Systematic Reviews

Systematic Review (of Therapy) worksheet  CEBM Toronto

Systematic Review Critical Appraisal   Duke University


Randomised Controlled Trials

CASP critical appraisal of RCTs



FRISBE for critical appraisal of therapy studies. Duke University

Therapy worksheet  CEBM Toronto

Therapy Critical Appraisal Worksheet  Duke University



Evidence-based Medicine: Answering questions of diagnosis  Clin Med Res 2004. 2(1):63-9. 

An introduction to critical appraisal of articles of diagnosis  J Am Osteopath Assoc 2007.107(8):304-9 

Diagnosis Critical Appraisal Worksheet  Duke University

Diagnosis worksheet  CEBM Toronto

Stats Calculator  CEBM Toronto

How to calculate Likelihood Ratios CEBM Toronto

Diagnostic Test Calculator  Alan Schwartz, University of Illinois, Chicago.

Synthesizing Evidence of Diagnostic Accuracy JBI eBook



Prognosis Critical Appraisal Worksheet  Duke University

Prognosis worksheet  CEBM University of Toronto



Harm worksheet  CEBM University of Toronto

Harm Critical Appraisal Worksheet  Duke University

Synthesizing Evidence of Risk JBI eBook


Differential Diagnosis

Differential Diagnosis Critical Appraisal Worksheet Duke University


Economic Evaluation

CASP critical appraisal of economic evaluations

Synthesizing Economic Evidence JBI eBook


Qualitative Studies

Qualitative Study Critical Appraisal Worksheet Duke University

Qualitative Research in Health Care A. Are the Results of the Study Valid? JAMA. 2000 Jul 19;284(3):357-362.

Qualitative Research in Health Care B. What Are the Results and How Do They Help Me Care for My Patients? JAMA. 2000 Jul 26;284(4):478-482.

Synthesizing Qualitative Evidence JBI eBook

Synthesizing Evidence from Narrative, Text and Opinion JBI eBook


Quality Improvement

How to Use an Article About Quality Improvement. JAMA 2010;304 2279-2287



Appraise the evidence UWA Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences

Apply the evidence UWA Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences

Knowledge Translation in Healthcare JBI eBook

Public Engagement in Translating Knowledge to Action JBI eBook

Translation Science and the JBI Model of Evidence Based Healthcare JBI eBook

Calculating Results

Number Needed to Treat

How to calculate the number-needed-to-treat  Terry Shaneyfelt.  video 3 min

The NNT Tutorial  Grahm Walker video 4 min

Number needed to treat Phillip Sedgewick.  BMJ 2010;341:c5614

Number Needed to Treat (Dr. Cates)

Absolute Risk Reduction, Relative Risk Reduction, Relative Risk

How to calculate a relative risk  Terry Shaneyfelt.  video 3 min

Basic Statistics for Clinicians: Assessing the effects of treatment: measures of association   CMAJ. 1995 Feb 1;152(3):351-7. Erratum in: Can Med Assoc J 1995 Mar 15;152(6):813.

Odds Ratios

Gordon Guyatt explaining odds ratios video 21 min

How to calculate an odds ratio  Terry Shaneyfelt.  video 3 min

Odds ratios.  Philip Sedgwick.  BMJ 2010;341:c4414 


Intention-to-treat analysis - What it is and why is it important?  Terry Shaneyfelt  video 5min

What is intention-to-treat analysis? Allan Shaughnessy video 1 min

What is the intention-to-treat analysis?  Philip Sedgewick   BMJ 2013;346:f3662

Forest Plots

How to interpret a forest plot.  Terry Shaneyfelt video 5 min 

Interpreting and understanding meta-analysis graphs--a practical guide. Aust Fam Physician. 2006 Aug;35(8):635-8. PubMed PMID: 16894442

Confidence Intervals

Confidence intervals.  Terry Shaneyfelt video 5 min

Basic Statistics for Clinicians: Interpreting study results: confidence intervals  CMAJ. 1995 Jan 15;152(2):169-73.

Sensitivity, Specificity and Likelihood ratios

Sensitivity & specificity  H. Gilbert Welch video 8 min

How to calculate sensitivity  Terry Shaneyfelt video 4 min

How to calculate specificity  Terry Shaneyfelt video 3 min

What are likelihood ratios and how are they used  Terry Shaneyfelt video 10 min

Table of Examples of LR (scroll down to table)

Appraising Journals and Publishers

Predatory Journals

Predatory journals charge publication fees to authors without providing legitimate peer review services prior to publication. Articles from these journals may not be reliable.

It is also important to assess journals and publishers before choosing to publish in an unfamiliar journal. 

There is no single checklist to determine if a publisher or journal is predatory. Following are some questions to help assess open access publishers and journals:

  • Are articles from the journal indexed in databases relevant to your field such as Medline, Embase, Emcare or PsycInfo? Or in citation databases such as Web of Science?
  • What is the quality of the articles? See critical appraisal tools. If an article is clearly written by a novice this may indicate a predatory journal.
  • Does the publisher have a clear peer review process and provide details about their peer review panel?
  • Is the publisher a member of Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)?


Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) provides a directory of quality peer-reviews open access journals.

The World Association of Medical Editors provide guidance on identifying predatory or pseudo-journals.


The following lists have compiled 'potential, possible or probably predatory' journals:

Note: These lists are not comprehensive or authoritative.  They are designed to help authors, but all authors should conduct their own due diligence to reach their own conclusions.