This is a guide for GRC's nursing students.

Critically Appraise Methodology by Research Study Type



Quantitative Research Studies - Basic Critical Appraisal Questions


General Description of the Study

  • Why was the study done (purpose)?
  • Was there a well designed research question or hypothesis?
  • What was the study design?  Was it appropriate for the research question?
  • Was appropriate ethics review reported?


  • What was the sampling technique?
  • What was the sample size?
  • What were the sample characteristics?

Major Variables Studied

  • What are the major variables, independent and dependent?
  • Are the measurements of the major variables valid and reliable?
  • How were the data analyzed?  Were the statistics used appropriate?
  • Were there any untoward events during the conduct of the study?


  • How do the results fit in with the previous research in the area?
  • What does this variable mean for clinical practice?


Qualitative Research Studies - Basic Critical Appraisal Questions


Are the results valid/trustworthy and credible?
•    How were study participants chosen?
•    How were accuracy and completeness of data assured? 
•    How plausible/believable are the results?

Are implications of the research stated?
•    May new insights increase sensitivity to others’ needs?
•    May understandings enhance situational competence?

What is the effect on the reader?
•    Are the results plausible and believable?
•    Is the reader imaginatively drawn into the experience?

What were the results of the study?
•    Does the research approach fit the purpose of the study?
How does the researcher identify the study approach?
•    Are language and concepts consistent with the approach?
•    Are data collection and analysis techniques appropriate?

Is the significance/importance of the study explicit?
•    Does review of the literature support a need for the study?
•    What is the study’s potential contribution?

Is the sampling strategy clear and guided by study needs?
•    Does the researcher control selection of the sample?
•    Do sample composition and size reflect study needs?
•    Is the phenomenon (human experience) clearly identified?

Are data collection procedures clear?
•    Are sources and means of verifying data explicit?
•    Are researcher roles and activities explained?

Are data analysis procedures described?
•    Does analysis guide direction of sampling and when it ends?
•    Are data management processes described?
•    What are the reported results (description or interpretation)?

How are specific findings presented?
•    Is presentation logical, consistent, and easy to follow?
•    Do quotes fit the findings they are intended to illustrate?

How are the overall results presented?
•    Are meanings derived from data described in context?
•    Does the writing effectively promote understanding?

Will the results help me in caring for my patients?
•    Are the results relevant to persons in similar situations?
•    Are the results relevant to patient values and/or circumstances?
•    How may the results be applied in clinical practice?

*quantitative questions taken from Chapter 5 and qualitative questions taken from Chapter 6 of:

Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (Eds.). (2019). Evidence-Based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice (4th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.


Appraise Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

see chapter 11 from BNURSE textbook:

see chapter 5 from BNURSE textbook:

Appraise Clinical Guidelines

see chapter 11 from BNURSE textbook:

see chapter 8 from BNURSE textbook:

Appraise RCTs (Randomized Controlled Trials)

see chapter 9 from BNURSE textbook:

see chapter 5 from BNURSE textbook:

Appraise Controlled Trials Without Randomization (quasi-experimental studies)

see chapter 9 from BNURSE textbook:

see chapter 5 from BNURSE textbook:

Appraise Cohort, Case Control, Cross-Sectional, Case Studies (non-experimental studies)

see chapter 10 from BNURSE textbook:

see chapter 5 from BNURSE textbook:

Appraise Qualitative Studies

see chapter 10 from BNURSE textbook:

see chapter 6 from BNURSE textbook: