Articles

Critical appraisal; a rule of thumb

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2008 by Alan Lovell Tagged:

Info specialists are often a little worried about having to do detailed critical appraisal, thinking that their lack of specialist knowledge in plastic surgery, coronary angioplasty or Bayesian hierarchical modelling will mean that they’ll be unable to identify what to include and what not. There’s a conversation about appraisal occurring on the Evidence-Based Health mailing list at the moment and I thought the following appraisal rule of thumb from Steve Simon of The Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas, pretty sound:

“My first rule in critical appraisal is to focus on how the data was collected and not on how it was analyzed. […] After all, if you collect the wrong data, it doesn’t matter how fancy the analysis. Furthermore, nine times out of ten, if there is a flaw in a paper it is a flawed data collection rather than a flawed data analysis.”

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