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MHIKNET: Critical Appraisal

Critical Appraisal

Critical Appraisal


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?”

National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools

Critical appraisal requires the reader to use their own judgment to evaluate an information source, but there are tools to help get you going.

Critically Appraising the Evidence You Use Every Day

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.

Critically Appraising Research Evidence

CASP: Critical Appraisal Skills Programme

CASP has critical appraisal checklists for each study type.  Each checklist has three sections to assess:

  1. Are the results of the study valid?
  2. What are the results?
  3. Will the results help locally?


AGREE II Instrument for Appraising Guidelines, Research and Evaluations

AGREE II Includes six domains:

  1. Scope and purpose
  2. Stakeholder involvement
  3. Rigour of development
  4. Clarity of presentation
  5. Applicability
  6. Editorial independence


AMSTAR II for Appraising Systematic Reviews


AMSTAR II [PDF] was developed to evaluate systematic reviews systematic reviews that include randomised or non-randomised studies of healthcare interventions, or both.


More Tools Are Available to Appraise the Research Evidence


National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools, Learning Centre

  • 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