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Finding Free Health Sciences Literature: Critical Appraisal

black and white drawing of a piece of paper with check marks on itWhen you find an article or study, how do you know if the results are any good?

Critical appraisal can help you determine the quality of the literature you find.


a black and white picture of a screwdriver and a wrench

There are lots of tools available to help you critically appraise the literature you find. See below for a sample; pick the ones that work best for you.

  • Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Tools: checklists for various study types, in both PDF and DOC formats
  • NYU: list of different resources, including critical appraisal worksheets from CEBM
  • Temple: provides a lot of info about critical appraisal and links to checklists by study type
  • GRADE: working group that created criteria for judging quality of RCTs, systematic reviews, and other evidence
  • CASP asks three questions:
  1. Is the study valid?
  2. What are the results (if the study is determined to be valid)?
  3. Are the results useful (and applicable to your patient)?

black and white drawing of a lightbulbWant to learn more about critical appraisal before jumping in? The videos below will give you a primer:

 

You may want to check this book out before you graduate. However, once you leave Pitt you can access it through your local public library. (If they don't have it, investigate their interlibrary loan program.)


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Retraction Watch is a website that features news on research misconduct, scientific controversies, and, of course, retractions. Reading it regularly will also help you to see what you should be on the lookout for when reading research. You can also sign up for the RW Daily to keep abreast of the latest retraction news.

Retraction Watch also has a database, where you can search for retracted articles by title, author, subject, reason for retraction, and much more. If you're unsure about an article, you can always look it (or the authors) up in the database.


 

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