Critical appraisal is the process of assessing the quality of study methods in order to determine if findings are trustworthy, meaningful and relevant to your situation. Critical appraisal helps you answer the question: "Were the methods used in this study good enough that I can be confident in the findings?”
Critical appraisal requires the reader to use their own judgment to evaluate an information source, but there are tools to help get you going.
An easy tool for evaluating information is the CRAP test, developed by Molly Beestrum and Kenneth Orenic at Dominican University (Illinois) CRAP stands for:
Currency: How recent is the information? Is it current enough for your topic?
Reliability: Is the information supported by evidence? Are there references? Is it peer reviewed?
Authority / Accuracy: Who is the creator or author? What are their credentials? Who is the publisher or sponsor? Are there ads? What does the url tell you?
Purpose/Point of View: Is this fact, opinion, or propaganda? Is the creator/author trying to sell you something? Is it biased? (political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal?)
The Community College of Baltimore County Library has a useful CRAP worksheet you can download.
CASP has critical appraisal checklists for each study type. Each checklist has three sections to assess:
AGREE II Includes six domains:
AMSTAR II [PDF] was developed to evaluate systematic reviews systematic reviews that include randomised or non-randomised studies of healthcare interventions, or both.
Online learning modules take 3-4 hours to complete
Provides certificates for completed modules
Critical Appraisal of Guidelines
Critical Appraisal of Systematic Reviews
Critical Appraisal of Intervention Studies