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Veterinary Nursing: Critical Appraisal / Critiquing Research

Journal Articles

Critical Appraisal : An introduction

   Image of a chimpanzee thinking

Critical Appraisal is the process of assessing and interpreting evidence by systematically considering its validity, results and relevance.

The following resources provide a useful introduction to this process:

Systematic reviews

Systematic Reviews:

SRs are used in evidence based medicine to ensure that practitioners have the best available evidence in order to decide how to treat patients. SRs are now applied to other disciplines.

Within the health discipline there may be lots of research being carried out, but not necessarily a summary of what has been done. There is a need to bring the research together to see if there is consensus of evidence from trials. Therefore a systematic approach is used to ensure that all research is found and evaluated.

•Clearly defined research question
•Aims for comprehensive, exhaustive searching
•Transparent methods – SR are explicit about how the search has been carried out i.e. transparent about method i.e. same filters, terms etc so that search can be replicated. e.g. only looks at research that looks at experimental trials in England etc.
•Pre-specified eligibility criteria to determine what’s included
•May include a meta-analysis – statistical analysis of the combined results of quantitative studies i.e. pool all the data from different studies to get an overall answer.
•Seeks to systematically search for, appraise and synthesise research evidence, often adhering to guidelines on how to conduct a review (e.g. PRISMA)

The PRISMA Statement was developed by an international group with the aim of transparent reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The PRISMA Statement consists of a checklist and a flow diagram. The latter is useful for recording the flow of information through the different phases of a systematic review.

Literature Reviews

A quick introduction to literature searching

Thanks to my colleague Linda Pearson for creating this video and the one on using keywords.