How to Review a Paper

As with all critical appraisals, it’s worth having a structured template to appraise as you go through the module. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why was the review done? If the aims are unclear, irrelevant or unimportant to you, then you can stop here
  • Was the search diligently done? Is their search reproducible? Is there any publication bias (did they try and find papers that might not have been published)?
  • What were their inclusion criteria?
  • Did the authors assess study quality?
  • Is there publication bias?
  • What do the results mean?
  • Is there much heterogeneity?
  • Is it possible that competing interests may have influenced the study?
  • Is this study internally valid (do you accept the findings from the study)?
  • Is this study externally valid (can I apply this to my own patients)?
  • How much does this cost?
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