Critical Appraisal Tools

Below are some links to online tools and journal articles to assist you in conducting critical appraisal.  There is also a list of books on critical appraisal which are available at the Library.

Online Resources:

The following online tools are free to access and download for personal use and can be used to assist you in critical appraisal of research and other clincial information. 

CASP Tools – The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) is a non-profit making entity and is part of Better Value Healthcare which is based in Oxford. The programme has developed a range of tools and checklists which can be used to help you critically appraise a range of different types of research.

CEBM Tools – The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine has developed various tools and training modules to help you critically appraise research.

BestBets – the BestBets website provides various worksheets to aid critical appraisal as well as other free-to-access resources for Evidence Based Practice.

Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) – The CONSORT checklist tool has been especially developed for critical appraisal of Random Controlled Trials.

Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE) – The AGREE tools have specifically been developed to appraise clinical practice guidelines.

Bandolier – Bandolier is an independent journal about evidence-based healthcare, written by Oxford scientists.  As well as an online journal, the website provides access to lots of useful resources and guidelines for getting started with different aspects of critical appraisal.

PRISMA – PRISMA stands for Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. It is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.  PRISMA may also be useful for critical appraisal of published systematic reviews, although it is not a quality assessment instrument to gauge the quality of a systematic review.

AMSTAR Checklist – The AMSTAR checklist is an instrument to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews, building upon previous tools, empirical evidence and expert consensus.

NWAS Critical Appraisal GuideThe North West Ambulance Service Trust’s guide to resources for critical appraisal, put together by Outreach Librarian Matt Holland.

University of Manchester online module – An online learning module produced by the University of Manchester which provides a good overview of critical appraisal.  The module is free to access.

Useful Articles

Barrett A, Wyer P.,C., Hatala R., McGinn T., Dans A.,L., Keitz S., Moyer V., Guyatt G., for the Evidence-Based Medicine Working Group. (2004) Tips for learners of evidence based medicine: 1. Relative risk reduction, absolute risk reduction & numbers needed to treat. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 171 (4): 353-358.  Click here to access the full text.

Perera R., & Heneghan C. (2008) Interpreting meta-analysis in systematic reviews. Evidence Based Medicine, 13;67-69.  Click here to access the full text.  You will need to login with your Athens password to view this article.

Petticrew M. (2001) Systematic reviews from astronomy to zoology: myths and misconceptions. BMJ 2001, 322, 98-101.  Click here to access the full text.

Scott I. Interpreting risks and ratios in therapy trials. (2008) Australian Prescriber, 31; 12-16. Click here to access the full text.

Yuan Y., & Hunt R.H. (2009) Systematic reviews: the good, the bad and the ugly. Am J Gastroenerol 2009; 104; 1086-1092.  Click here to contact the Library to request this article.


We have the following books on critical appraisal available in the Library.  If you would like to borrow any of these books please contact the library.

Gosall N. & Gosall G. (2012) The doctor’s guide to critical appraisal. (3rd Ed.) Croydon: PasTest.

Greenhalgh T. (2010) How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine. (4th ed.) Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Ajetunmobi O. (2002) Making sense of critical appraisal. London: Oxford University Press.

Elwood JM. (2007) Critical appraisal of epidemiological studies and clinical trials. (3rd Ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bowers D., House A., & Owens D. (2001) Understanding clinical papers. Chichester: John Wiley.

Lawrie S.M., McIntosh A.M., and Rao S. (2000) Critical appraisal for psychiatry. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.