How to critically appraise a research article

With the media spouting the findings of new research (seemingly) every day, I found this article at Nature.com particularly interesting.

Critical appraisal is a systematic process used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a research article in order to assess the usefulness and validity of research findings. The most important components of a critical appraisal are an evaluation of the appropriateness of the study design for the research question and a careful assessment of the key methodological features of this design. Other factors that also should be considered include the suitability of the statistical methods used and their subsequent interpretation, potential conflicts of interest and the relevance of the research to one’s own practice. This Review presents a 10-step guide to critical appraisal that aims to assist clinicians to identify the most relevant high-quality studies available to guide their clinical practice.

I like it. Tools to help separate the wheat from the chaff. Plus, they make the process quite easy by giving readers a ten point checklist:

Ten questions to ask when critically appraising a research article.

Is the study question relevant?

Does the study add anything new?

What type of research question is being asked?

Was the study design appropriate for the research question?

Did the study methods address the most important potential sources of bias?

Was the study performed according to the original protocol?

Does the study test a stated hypothesis?

Were the statistical analyses performed correctly?

Do the data justify the conclusions?

Are there any conflicts of interest?

I’m impressed. Read the whole paper for more info.

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