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Study Selection/ Screening

Screening results for a literature review

What is Critical Appraisal?

Critical appraisal is often discussed in the context of nursing and healthcare research. It "enable you to systematically assess the trustworthiness, relevance and results of published papers" (CASP, 2021).

Once you find resources you need, it is important to read and evaluate them for the validity, relevancy, and reliability. You can perform this by asking yourself questions like do they have clear research questions and are they collecting the data in the right way.

Consider some fundamental questions when you begin your appraisal

Abstract and Introduction

  • Has the research question clearly defined?
  • Did they clearly describe the problem being studied?

Background and literature review

  • Did they critically reviewed current and relevant literature on the topic?


  • Did they justify the choice of selected research methodology?
  • Are there any bias?
  • Are the sample population appropriately selected?


  • Did they analyse the data adequately?
  • Are they set out the results properly?


  • Is the conclusion clear?
  • Does the results support conclusion?
  • Are the findings applicable and generalizable?

Critical Appraisal Tools

There are many checklists and tools available to help you with critical appraisal. Some are listed below:

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) : CASP offers various resources on critical appraisal skills including training, workshops and tools.

Critical Appraisal tools - Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine : The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine from the University of Oxford offers resources and tools for critical appraisal.

EBM Toolkit: Tools from University of Alberta for identifying and assessing evidence for health care decision making. 

Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal checklists: Critical Appraisal tools from JBI for assessing the relevance and trustworthiness of literature.

Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT): Checklist for appraising and describing studies included in systematic mixed studies reviews. It allows appraisal of the methodological quality of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method studies.

PRISMA: The PRISMA checklist is a 27 part list to appraise the quality of a paper's structure, methodology, and reporting. 

Essential Readings