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Physician Assistant Systematic Review

Questions to ask when Critically Appraising an Article

As you conduct your search, you will find numerous articles that match your topic and with a precursory glance meet your inclusion and exclusion criteria. You now need to cirtically appraise each study to assess the quality of each study. Only include studies that match your set quality standards (outlined in your protocol). 

The information you should consider:  

  1. Why is this study being conducted?
  2. What type of research question is being asked? 
  3. Does the study design match the research question?
  4. How much chance for bias is present in the study? 
  5. Is the analysis of the data accurate? 
  6. Are the conclusions based on the data and analysis? 
  7. Does the study have any limitations? 

Information is taken from: What is Critical Appraisal? by Amanda Burls. 

How to Read an Original Research Article

Scientific Papers generally include the following sections: Introduction, Methods, results, discussion, and conclusions. 

Section Purpose Questions to Ask Yourself
Abstract
  • Summary of the article
  • Whats the main topic of the article?
  • What are useful keywords that the author uses? 
Introduction
  • Justifies their current research by outlining their purpose and the previous gaps in knowledge
  • Spells out their goals and research question. 
  • What is the context for this article?
  • How does their question change your understanding of the topic?
Method
  • Describes the process they used to test their hypothesis. 
  • Would their method answer their research question?
  • Does their method demonstrate any bias? 
Results
  • Reports what the study found
  • The type of results largely depends on the methods
  • Do the results support or disprove their hypothesis?
  • What did they find?
  • Does the results make sense for their methods? 
Discussion
  • Interprets the results based on the research question and previous research. 
  • Discusses the limitation of the study and potential for future studies. 
  • What are the implications of these results for the real world?
Conclusion
  • Summarizes their goals and finds
  • Provides take home messages. 
  • Would you make any other conclusions based on their results?
  • Does their findings support their conclusions? 
Reference
  • Lists of other articles and studies used for the article
  • Are the articles relevant and current?
  • Would any of these articles be useful for your own research? 

Process to follow when reading the article:

  • Read the Abstract
    • Find the relevancy and main argument
  • Skim the Introduction
    • Delve a little deeper into the background of the article 
  • Study the figures and charts
    • See what the study actually found 
  • Read the discussion and conclusion
    • Further understand what the figures and charts mean. 
  • Go through rest of article for technical information

Critical Appraisal Tools