Published on December 29th, 2013 | by Daniel Jolley


Critically appraising evidence: how to read a paper?

It’s hard to keep up with the latest evidence. Not only is the sheer volume of newly published papers overwhelming and the variety of topics broad and wide, but then after finding a paper that piques your interest you are still faced with the tricky task of critically assessing its quality and relevance.

In the past I would have recommended Trisha Greenhalgh’s classic, though wordy, BMJ series ‘How to read a paper‘ — but now I have something better.

While completing my Masters of Medicine, one of the most useful resources I found (thank you Dr Buettner) were the critique checklists provided by the ‘Critical Appraisal Skills Programme’, a UK non-profit based in Oxford. CASP  runs workshops that educate healthcare workers and others on how to appraised medical evidence — and they share online the great checklists they use during the workshop under a Creative Commons license.

Unfortunately these checklists (covering the appraisal of many different study types) are only provided as downloadable PDFs, which while great for printing are frustrating to use on digital devices.

So for your critiquing-pleasure I have remixed the most useful checklists as plain-old webpages here on gasexchange. Save the link below for a non-pdf critical appraisal checklist that will be equally usable on an iPhone, tablet or laptop, covering:

  • Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Systematic Reviews
  • Cohort Studies
  • Case Control Studies

Critically Appraising Medical Evidence Checklists



Now, go appraise a paper. You know you should.

…and there’s something exciting coming here on that front soon.

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About the Author

is an Australian consultant anaesthetist/anesthesiologist, with interests in anaesthesia education, obstetric and paediatric anaesthesia, and the practice of anaesthesia in remote and under-resourced environments. Daniel trained in Sydney, Darwin and Melbourne, and has worked in Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, Fiji and Mongolia. He is one of the founders of along with Brad O'Connor.

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