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Systematic Reviews

An introduction to systematic reviews, with examples from health sciences and medicine

Critical Appraisal

Critical appraisal is the process of judging the validity and quality of a research paper.

Major points to consider when appraising systematic reviews include:

  • Is the study valid?

  • What are the results, and are they significant?

  • Are the results applicable?

Critical Appraisal Tools

The PRISMA checklist is also helpful in identifying elements to look for in a systematic review, although it is not a quality instrument per se; the SPIRIT checklist likewise.

Critical Appraisal + Data extraction

Data extraction is the process of transcribing information from the  primary studies under review to a standard form or template that has been designed to capture all of the detail relevant to the meta-analysis.

Double data extraction is preferred for accuracy - this is when two researchers extract the data independently and discuss any discrepancies or consult a moderator to arrive at consensus.

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Text on Critical Appraisal