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Students in Healthcare subjects can be asked to carry out structured ‘critical appraisals’ of research articles. Being able to assess whether research is valid and applicable to your healthcare area is not just for assignments; it is also an essential basis for professionalism and evidence-based practice.
It is useful to have a structured process when appraising research articles, and also to know where in the article to find the information you need. This brief tutorial gives a good overview of the appraisal process:
The CASP checklists are designed to help with the appraisal process and there are specific checklists for different research methods. See our page on CASP for more details:
The critical appraisal approach usually asks you to consider whether the results are valid, what has been found, and how relevant these findings are to your own practice. In order to do this effectively, you need to be a critical thinker. See our page on critical thinking for more:
Sometimes the terms ‘critical appraisal’ and ‘critical review’ can be used to mean the same thing. A critical appraisal is more structured and more focused on the validity and outcomes of research for healthcare practice. A critical review could be an analysis of any text. See our guide to Critical Reviews to avoid confusion and ask your lecturer if you are not sure what you’re being asked to do.