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Critical Appraisal of a Primary Research Article in a Peer-Reviewed Journal



Write a critical appraisal of research that is published as a primary research article (not a systematic review, review protocol or meta analysis) in a recognised peer-reviewed journal in the last 3 years (2019, 2020 or 2021)

You must choose an article that is different from the examples given to you during taught sessions. You should evaluate the research in the publication and consider the ethics of the research to meet the learning outcomes for this assessment.

  1. Critically appraise relevant scientific and clinical literature, including ethical considerations
  1. Be able to articulate research outcomes in appropriate language

Select a single primary research article published in the last 3 years and write a critical appraisal of it. You must clearly demonstrate an ability to analyse and evaluate the research in the article (please don’t focus on appraising how well the article has been written, we are interested in the science/research not the writing style) and consider the ethical implications of the research and how they have been dealt with in the publication in order to meet the two learning outcomes for this assessment. As with all level 7 assessments, you must show in depth knowledge, the use of appropriate sources for evidence, evaluation of the literature and clear communication (see the marking criteria for this assessment for details).

Details of the research article being appraised- Full reference for the publication that is being appraised, plus at least one sentence about the journal that it is published in (remember this must be a peer reviewed journal) You can consider its Impact factor also. The word count of the submission (appraisal) not including the references.

Once you have given these details you do not have to cite the paper all the way through your appraisal but make it clear when you are writing about the article you are appraising and other research that you might cite. It is easy to get these confused in your writing.


You should explain what the paper aimed to do (what was the research question?) and evaluate if this was appropriate or not. To do this you should explain where this paper fits in with the general research area in your introduction (this shows evidence of wider reading around the topic). You could consider if this is the first paper of its kind, or if it is a novel idea or building on previous work.

Appraisal of methods

This is usually the largest section of your appraisal. You should discuss if the methods are sound, appropriate and repeatable. We will not take your word for this, you must support your ideas with citations from the literature. Do not simply state ‘the methods are sound’ as that is only your opinion, you must explain why they were the right kind of methods for the research question in the paper. You can consider what other researchers have done to address similar research questions to help you with this. If the methods are not appropriate or could be improved to answer the specific research question, what are your suggestions for this? You might not be able to discuss all of the issues with the methods, so pick key ones to discuss. Remember the positives are just as important in evaluation as the negatives, critical here does not mean negative only.

You must clearly consider the ethics of the research; you can explain how the authors have considered the ethics and consider if this was appropriate or not. You should consider the need for the research in the first place based on other research in the field as part of your ethical considerations. Don’t simply state that the research had ethical approval, or it follows the Helsinki guidelines, you must consider what that means. We accept that this section may have less citations than other sections due to the nature of ethical consideration.

Appraisal of the results and discussion

You should discuss if the authors have analysed their results appropriately to make the conclusions that they make. Do the authors summarise all the issues with the research, or have you seen other issues that were not highlighted. Did the authors answer the research question with their research?


The real idea of critical appraisal is to make a decision at the end what the evidence can be used for. Overall, was it valid evidence to answer all of the research questions the authors proposed to answer? What contribution has the paper made to the wider evidence supporting the area of research?

e.g. if the paper is about a drug treating type 2 diabetes but the patients used had a mixture of type 1 and 2 diabetes, can the evidence really inform us about this drug in type 2 diabetes? If not, what can it tell us instead?

Your conclusions should summarise what you have found out from appraising this piece of research, therefore there should be no citations and it should be highly focused on what you have found. It should not be a description of the conclusions from the paper, they should be your conclusions from carrying out the appraisal. This shows your skills in using evidence-based medicine to support decision making.


These should be in APA7 format. If you need support with this please contact Aacdemic skills department.

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