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Systematic Reviews for Health: Critical Appraisal

A guide on how a Research Librarian can help you during a systematic review process

Critical Appraisal

Critical appraisal is an integral process in Evidence Based Practice. Critical appraisal aims to identify methodological flaws in the literature and provide consumers of research evidence the opportunity to make informed decisions about the quality of research evidence.

Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias

This chapter of the Cochrane Handbook details version 2 of the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomized trials (RoB 2), the recommended tool for use in Cochrane Reviews.

CASP Checklist

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP)

This set of eight critical appraisal tools are designed to be used when reading research, these include tools for Systematic Reviews, Randomised Controlled Trials, Cohort Studies, Case Control Studies, Economic Evaluations, Diagnostic Studies, Qualitative studies and Clinical Prediction Rule.

These are free to download and can be used by anyone under the Creative Commons License.

Public Health Resource Unit, NHS, England


STROBE checklists for observational studies

Guidelines for checking the quality of cohort, case-control, cross-sectional studies and conference abstracts.

Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS)

Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) for assessing the quality of nonrandomised studies in meta-analyses

The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) is an ongoing collaboration between the Universities of Newcastle, Australia and Ottawa, Canada. It was developed to assess the quality of nonrandomised studies with its design, content and ease of use directed to the task of incorporating the quality assessments in the interpretation of meta-analytic results. A 'star system' has been developed in which a study is judged on three broad perspectives: the selection of the study groups; the comparability of the groups; and the ascertainment of either the exposure or outcome of interest for case-control or cohort studies respectively. The goal of this project is to develop an instrument providing an easy and convenient tool for quality assessment of nonrandomised studies to be used in a systematic review.

Evidence Analysis Manual

Evidence Analysis Manual (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

The Evidence Analysis Manual was created to help understand and carry out the process of conducting a systematic review. It includes information on developing 'good' research questions; conducting a thorough literature search; description of research designs; how to appraise a research article; the Academy's risk of bias tool; and much more. 

YouTube video


JBI Critical Appraisal Tools

JBI offers critical appraisal checklists for various study types. The tools are available for download as a PDF.

NHMRC List of Good Practice Tools to Assess Risk of Bias

NHMRC - Tools to Assess Risk of Bias

Table 1 in Section 2 lists various good practice tools and sources to assess risk of bias.


GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation)

GRADE is an approach to grade the quality of evidence and the strength of recommendations that can be applied across a wide range of interventions and types of studies. 


Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR)

AMSTAR is a 37-item assessment tool used to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews.

EMGO Institute, The Netherlands


CEBM: Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (University of Oxford)

Includes critical appraisal checklists for a range of study designs, including systematic reviews.

Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford.

EPHPP Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies

EPHPP Quality Assessment Method or Tool

The Effective Public Health Practice Project developed the EPHPP Quality Assessment Method and Tool for quantitative studies method. The tool was developed for use in public health, and can be applied to articles of any public health topic area, including the promotion of family and sexual health and the prevention of chronic disease, injuries and substance misuse. Various types of public health professionals would find this tool relevant to utilise sources of high quality literature to support the decision-making process, especially when designing, implementing and evaluating public health programs and policy. The method includes seven steps.

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