Step 3: Evidence Appraisal

Rapid Critical Appraisal - Video

Credit: Molly Montgomery, MLS, MS - ISU Library

What is Critical Appraisal?

After finding articles, we need to determine what is worth keeping and including in our research. We do this through a critical appraisal of each piece of 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.

You want to ask:

  • What are the results?
  • Are the results valid?
  • How useful is it to your patient/population/practice?

Evidence Appraisal Guides/Checklists

Different study types require different criteria for appraisal. Use the links below to find helpful guides and checklists for appraising articles. (Refer back to the Searching - Study Types section of this guide for tips on how to determine the study type of an article.)

Creating a Literature Matrix

A literature matrix, or table of evidence, is a tool that will help you organize and synthesize the results of the articles you've found. Create a spreadsheet and, for each study you find during your research, create the following column headings:

Problem/Purpose Design Sample Methods Instruments Findings Implications Limitations

How to Read a Paper