Critical Appraisal

A key skill for all health professionals, critical appraisal is an essential part of evidence based practice.

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

Developing the skills to appropriately evaluate the research you’re reading is of vital importance. Critical appraisal can enable you to:

  • Determine if your research evidence is biased
  • Determine if the evidence is applicable to your local setting/population
  • Make evidence based, informed decision making
  • Deal with information overload
  • Focus on the highest quality evidence to guide clinical practice


The Library runs Critical Appraisal training, on a 1 to 1 or small group basis. Click here for scheduled sessions. To book on to a session at a time to suit you, contact your local Library.

William Harvey Library (GEH)Education Centre Library (SWFT)
02476 865464 (internal 5464)01926 495321 ext 4287


Checklists are tools to help critically appraise research. There are different ones for different study types, as each type of research has its own potential bias.

If you’re not sure what type of study you’re appraising, the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine’s helpful Guide to Study Designs can help you to work it out.

Some useful checklists are:

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Checklists are a set of eight critical appraisal tools to use when reading research. They are free to download.

The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) at the University of Oxford offer a set of critical appraisal worksheets to use when reading research. They’re also available translated into several non-English languages.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland/ SIGN provide a number of critical appraisal checklists and accompanying notes.

Find out more about checklists and which one to use when from the University of Exeter.

Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) have a range of downloadable tools, including a checklist for text and opinion, and a checklist for qualitative studies.

Online training resources

E-learning module on Training Tracker- exclusive to George Eliot staff.

Finding and appraising the evidence by Amanda Burls and Anne Brice is a useful online guide to the topic based on the CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Programme). The resource is mainly video based, with a particular recommendation for the Randomised Controlled Trials section.

Critical appraisal for Health Professionals is a quick guide from the University of Exeter.


Video playlist: Critical appraisal of an RCT using CASP checklist from Barts Health NHS Trust Knowledge and Library Services. Short videos looking at each question in the CASP checklist.

Andrew Booth at the University of Sheffield has produced videos on criticizing qualitative research and quantitative research:

Reading list

Bootland, D. et al. (2017)  Critical appraisal from papers to patient: A practical guide. Abingdon: CRC Press.

Burls, A. (2009) What is critical appraisal? Available at:

Greenhalgh, T. (2019) How to read a paper. 6th edn. Chichester: Wiley.

House of Commons Library (2023) How to spot spin and inappropriate use of statistics. Available at: