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Systematic Review (SR) Service: Critical Appraisal

Collaborate with a MSK Research Informationist to publish your Systematic Review.

About Critical Appraisal

After the Research Informationist completes the literature search for a Systematic Review, the next step for the researcher is Critical Appraisal. Critical appraisal involves the thorough evaluation of search results to identify the best articles on your topic. Critical Appraisal Tools (CATs) can help. Some of these tools are identified in the box to the right. 

You will probably want to assign a 'level of evidence' and quality score using the tool most appropriate for your topic.

Critical Appraisal Organizations & Tools

  • AGREE (Appraisal of Guidelines, Research and Evaluation in Europe) - international collaboration of researchers and policy makers who seek to improve the quality and effectiveness of clinical practice guidelines.
  • CASP - Critical Appraisal Skills Programme. This resource is produced by Solutions for Public Health (SPH), a not-for-profit NHS public health organisation in the UK.  Product strength is that it provides a different evaluation tool for different types of research studies, which is important since search results will usually have a variety of study types.
  • CATmaker - A computer-assisted critical appraisal open source tool which helps you create critically appraised topics for key articles you encounter about Therapy, Diagnosis, Prognosis, Aetiology/Harm, and Systematic Reviews of Therap                                                          
  • CEBM (Centre for Evidence-based Medicine) - Based in Oxford, UK, this centre aims to promote evidence-based health care. and resources to doctors, clinicians, teachers and others interested in learning more about EBM.
  • Centre for Evidence Based Medicine: Critical Appraisal Sheets - Established in Oxford as the first of several UK centres with the aim of promoting evidence-based health care.
  • CONSORT - The main product of this resource is the consort statement, which is an evidence-based, minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomized trials. It offers a standard way for authors to prepare reports of trial findings, facilitating their complete and transparent reporting, and aiding their critical appraisal and interpretation.
  • Downs' and Black's Critical Appraisal Tool - Provides both an overall score for study quality and a numeric score out of a possible 30 points. Contains five sections. Administration of the tool can happen either within a systematic review process, or as a quality assessment tool for individual articles.
  • The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) for assessing the quality of nonrandomized studies in meta-analyses - Ongoing collaboration between the Universities of Newcastle, Australia and Ottawa, Canada. This scale was developed to assess the quality of non-randomized studies with its design, content and ease of use directed to the task of incorporating the quality assessments in the interpretation of meta-analytic results.
  • Pragmatic Explanatory Continuum Indicator Summary (PRECIS: a tool to help trial designers - Tool to help researchers/clinicians in making decisions that are consistent with their trial’s stated purpose (validated).