Critical appraisal tools

Understanding Health Research can help you to critically appraise research. However, other critical appraisal tools are available, focusing on different audiences or types of research.

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP)
CASP provides resources and learning and development opportunities to support critical appraisal skills development in the UK.

Centre for Evidence Based Medicine
The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine produces worksheets to assist with critical appraisal of specific types of research including systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials.

Reporting guidelines

We can only assess the relevance and quality of research if we have sufficient information about its methods and findings. Reporting guidelines help researchers to thoroughly describe all the important details about their studies. We can use reporting guidelines to check how complete an article is, to see whether it is worth critically appraising it further. We can then use critical appraisal checklist questions to assess how good the described methods are and what the results actually mean.

Some internationally-recognised reporting guidelines include:

CONSORT

The CONSORT Group have developed tools aimed at researchers to help them to report their randomised trials in a full and comprehensive manner. If you are interested in appraising a paper that is a randomised controlled trial, you could check what the authors have reported against the CONSORT 2010 Checklist to see if the researchers have failed to mention anything important.

STROBE
STROBE is a similar organisation to CONSORT. They produce checklists for researchers to use to make sure that they report their observational studies well. If you are interested in appraising a cohort, case-control or cross-sectional study, you could check the content of the paper against the corresponding STROBE checklist to see if the researchers have failed to mention anything important.

COREQ
checklist for checking that qualitative interview and focus group research has been reported well.

Many other reporting guidelines are listed on the EQUATOR Network website to support better reporting of research studies.