Systematic & scoping reviews

What is critical appraisal?

Critical appraisal is the process of carefully and systematically examining research to judge its trustworthiness, its value and relevance in a particular context (Burls, 2009).

Why do we need to critically appraise the literature? We do this to:

  • Weigh up the evidence for usefulness
  • Assess benefits and strengths for research against flaws and weaknesses
  • Assess the research process and results - Are the findings reliable? What do the results mean in the context of the decision we are making?


Critical appraisal websites

AMSTAR (Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews)

AMSTAR is a 37-item assessment tool used to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews.

Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM): Critical appraisal tools

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in Oxford (UK) provides tools and downloads for the critical appraisal of medical evidence. Sample appraisal sheets are provided together with several helpful examples.

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP)

The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) helps people to find and interpret the best available evidence from health research.

iCAHE: Critical appraisal tools

Lists a range of critical appraisal tools related to various types of studies including systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials and meta-analyses.

EPHPP Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies

The Effective Public Health Practice Project developed the EPHPP Quality Assessment Method and Tool for quantitative studies method. The tool was developed for use in public health, and can be applied to articles of any public health topic area.

GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation)

GRADE is an approach to grade the quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations that can be applied across a wide range of interventions and types of studies.

Joanna Briggs Institute: Critical appraisal tools

Provides access to critical appraisal tools for different types of studies including systematic reviews and RCTs.

Standard quality assessment criteria for evaluating primary research papers from a variety of fields. Kmet, Lee & Cook.

The Institute of Health Economics, Alberta, Canada have developed and implemented two scoring systems to evaluate the quality of the studies potentially eligible for inclusion in reviews: one for quantitative research reports, and one for qualitative research reports.