Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Appraise the evidence


A set of scales for weighing things

Not all evidence is equal – even at the same level of the Evidence Pyramid. Basic critical appraisal skills can be applied to a research paper in a few minutes. More advanced critical appraisal skills can be used for journal club presentations or EBP reviews.

The aim of critical appraisal is to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and potential for bias in clinical research before you apply it to your patient.

You can use critical appraisal skills to:

  • Systematically review scientific literature
  • Determine if a study is sound enough to influence your practice and that of your team
  • Understand the reasons for different results between studies
  • Better integrate research into practice
  • Take an Evidence Based approach in your practice

The principles of validity, clinical importance and applicability apply to all situations but may need to be used differently for each type of research question.

Principles of critical appraisal should also be applied to higher levels of evidence, research syntheses, and electronic resources.