A simplified approach to critically appraising research evidence

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Background: Evidence Based Practice is embedded into all aspects of nursing and care. Understanding research evidence and being able to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of published primary research studies is an essential skill of the Evidence Based Practitioner. However, this process can be daunting and seem to be overly complex.
Aim: The aim of this article is to provide a single framework to be used when reading, comprehending, and critically assessing published research.
Discussion: In order to make sense of published research papers it is helpful to understand some key concepts and how they relate to either quantitative or qualitative designs. This article begins with discussion of internal and external validity and reliability as it relates to quantitative research before outlining aspects of trustworthiness when assessing qualitative research. This is followed by working through how to apply these concepts in a practical way utilizing a standardized framework to guide systematic assessment of a research paper.
Conclusion: The framework should help you to identify the strengths, potential weaknesses, and limitations of a research paper so that you can make a judgement about its quality and subsequent utility to practice.
Implications for practice: The ability to understand and evaluate research papers builds strong Evidence Based Practitioners, which is essential to nursing practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNurse researcher
Early online date4 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Mar 2021


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