Critical appraisal is the use of explicit, transparent methods to assess the data in published research, applying the rules of evidence to factors such as internal validity, adherence to reporting standards, conclusions and generalizability. Critical appraisal methods form a central part of the systematic review process. They are used in evidence-based healthcare training to assist clinical decision-making, and are increasingly used in evidence-based social care and education provision.
The learning and teaching of critical appraisal skills can be enhanced by conducting a mock randomized controlled trial in class, such as the red Smarties trial in which learners compared the effect of Smarties upon happiness.
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