5. Step 2: Appraise the quality of the study

5.2. Critical appraisal and appraisal toolkits

5.2 Critical appraisal and appraisal toolkits

The appraisal needs to address aspects of the study design such as sample size, enrolment and exclusion criteria, case definition, allocation, blinding, statistical methods and objectivity in the discussion of the results.

Appraising papers takes practice; the best way to do this is to find a paper that is relevant to your question, determine its level of evidence and then work through a critical appraisal toolkit for that study type.

Below are links to various critical appraisal toolkits; these provide a checklist to work through when reading a paper and appraising a specific study type. Toolkits are designed typically by study design but also by question type. Try a few and see which ones work for you.

  • RCVS Knowledge toolkits
    • Controlled trial, cross-sectional study, case-control, cohort, systematic review, qualitative study