Critical Appraisal guides, tools and tutorials

Healthcare staff need to know how to appraise and interpret the research literature in order to effectively apply it for the benefit of patients. The skills in interpreting research studies are commonly known as critical appraisal skills.

The library service holds a number of resources to assist those wishing to gain these skills. These include workbooks for those wanting to learn at their own pace via self-directed learning and toolkits of worked examples and guided exercises for those wanting to set up regular CASP workshop meetings with a small group of colleagues.

Library staff are available to assist with the facilitation of CASP workshops. You can fill our training form to request group or individual session.

Books and eBooks
AMSTAR (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews) Assessment of Multiple systematic reviews is a 37-item assessment tool used to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews.
CASP critical appraisal checklists Tools for systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, and case control studies
CEBM critical appraisal checklists Critical appraisal worksheets to help you appraise the reliability, importance and applicability of clinical evidence.
GATE: Graphic Approach To Evidence Based Practice PDF presentation on how to use this tool.
JBI: Critical appraisal tools CATs for a range of study types: case control, case reports, cohort, diagnostic test , economic evaluations, prevalence, quasi-experimental, RCTs, SRs and more
Methodological index for non-randomized studies (MINORS) MINORS is an instrument designed to assess the methodological quality of non-randomized surgical studies, whether comparative or non-comparative
PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database) scale Developed to support evidence-based practice in physiotherapy, PEDro can be used to find trials, reviews and guidelines evaluating physiotherapy interventions. Trials are assessed for quality using the PEDro scale. Aimed at a global audience and produced in Australia by the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health.
SIGN (Scottish intercollegiate guidelines network) critical appraisal checklist
The application of a CAT (‘CASP’)

The Cochrane Common Mental Disorders group have produced 7 videos demonstrating the application of the CASP checklist to different study designs.

Learning resources on key areas of Cochrane review methodology
The critical appraisal programme has been designed to enable the healthcare workforce (clinical and non-clinical) to build confidence in the critical appraisal process when applying and evaluating research. You will need your OpenAthens account.
Cochrane Evidence Essentials is an introduction to Evidence Based Medicine, clinical trials and Cochrane evidence. It is designed for healthcare consumers (patients, care givers, family members), policy makers and members of the healthcare team
This module explores how to locate relevant terms for various study designs in the ProQuest Thesaurus and other fields and how to execute efficient searches for various study designs corresponding to the main Levels of Evidence. It is intended for  medical and nursing faculty, students, and researchers. It is recommended that you complete the ProQuest – Thesaurus module on the ProQuest Platform LibGuide first
Evaluating grey literature

Using grey literature

Grey literature can be produced in various formats and be written in different styles.

Here are some articles showing the debate about and the use of grey literature in research.


Grey literature assessment tools

Use the ‘AACODS’ checklist, from Flinders University, South Australia, designed as a memory aid in evaluating grey literature:-

  • A Authority
  • A Accuracy
  • C Coverage
  • O Objectivity
  • D Date
  • S Significance
DARTS can be used to evaluate grey literature, and can easily be adapted into a spreadsheet for tracking purposes.

  • Date: when was the content last updated?
  • Author: who created the content?
  • References: are there valid references to other content?
  • Type: what is the purpose of the content? Where is it featured?
  • Sponsor: is the content sponsored, and by whom?
QUality Evaluation Scoring Tool (QUEST) is a 28-point system for evaluating online health information, and can be useful for comparing a large number of resources.

  • Authorship: 0 (no indication), 1 (some indication), 2 (author’s name and qualification listed)
  • Attribution: 0 (no references), 1 (some references; may not be credible studies), 2 (reference to at least one identifiable scientific study), 3 (references to identifiable scientific studies in >50% of claims)
  • Conflict of interest: 0 (endorsement of related intervention or treatment), 1 (endorsement of educational products/services), 2 (unbiased)
  • Currency: 0 (no date present), 1 (dated 5 years or older), 2 (dated within 5 years)
  • Complementarity: 0 (no support of patient-physician relationship), 1 (support of patient-physician relationship)
  • Tone: 0 (author fully and unequivocally supports claims, using strong language), 1 (author mainly supports claims with more cautious language, but does not discuss limitations), 2 (author’s claims are cautious and balanced, and discusses limitations/contrasting findings)

Appraising sources

Alternative Facts and Fake News – Verifiability in the Information Society IFLA Blog of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
Evaluating information Guides and tutorials on evaluation of information from the Imperial College London library services
Verification skills tutorials Video 1: Introductory Video

Video 2: Investigate the Source

Video 3: Find the Original Source

Video 4: Look for Trusted Work

Fact checking Tools Video 1: Verifying Images and Videos

Video 2: Looking up Claims and Website Owners

Video 3: Evaluating Social Media Accounts

Get the facts on health Fact checks about medical conditions, the NHS, social care and government funding of national health services
Statistics guides
Catalogue of Bias A collaborative project mapping all the biases that affect health evidence
Catalogue of bias: racial bias. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine (2023). by Naicker, R. and Nunan, D (access with NHS OpenAthens)
CATmaker A software tool which helps you create Critically Appraised Topics, for key articles you encounter about Therapy, Diagnosis, Prognosis, Aetiology/Harm and Systematic Reviews of Therapy.
Evidence-Based Medicine Toolkit A collection of tools for identifying, assessing and applying relevant evidence for better health care decision-making.
Understanding health research This tool will guide you through a series of questions to help you to review and interpret a published health research paper.

Page last reviewed: 27 January, 2024