Are you stuck with your critical appraisal essay and need some expert advice? Well, as an instructor, I go through many appraisal essays every year, so here are some tips on how to write a critical appraisal essay professionally. In my experience, critical appraisal is a systematic process for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a research article to assess the usefulness and validity of research findings. The most important aspects of a critical appraisal essay are an assessment of the study design’s suitability for the research question and a careful examining its key methodological features. Other considerations include the appropriateness of the statistical methods used and their subsequent interpretation, potential conflicts of interest, and the relevance of the research to one’s practice.
This article provides a 10-step guide to making writing a critical appraisal essay easy!
What Are The 10 Tips To Follow When Writing A Critical Appraisal Essay?
There are some general guidelines to follow when writing a critical appraisal essay. Some key questions to consider when evaluating such a paper include:
Is The Research Question Relevant To The Study?
Even if a study has the highest methodological rigour, it isn’t very helpful unless it addresses an important topic and adds to what is already known about that topic.
Determining whether a research question is relevant is invariably subjective, as what is important to one person may be irrelevant to another. Nonetheless, the first question to ask while writing a critical appraisal essay is whether the topic is relevant to one’s expertise.
Does The Study Offer Any New Insights?
Scientific research is frequently compared to “standing on the shoulders of giants” because new ideas and knowledge are developed based on previous work.
Although seminal research papers that make a significant new contribution to knowledge are rare, research that makes an incremental advance can also be valuable. A study, for example, may boost confidence in the validity of previous research by replicating its findings, or it may improve a study’s ability to generalise by extending the original research findings to a new population.
What Kind Of Research Question Is Raised By The Study?
The most basic task of a critical appraisal essay is to identify the specific research question that a paper addresses. This process will determine the best study design and significantly impact the significance and relevance of the findings. A well-developed research question usually identifies three components: the population, the studied parameter and the desired outcomes.
Was The Design Of The Study Appropriate For The Research Question?
There is a well-established hierarchy of study designs for studies that answer questions about effectiveness based on the degree to which the design protects against bias. Nonrandomised controlled trials, cohort studies, case-control studies, and other observational study designs provide the most robust evidence.
Did The Study’s Methods Address The Most Significant Potential Sources Of Bias?
In simple terms, bias doesn’t imply a preconception on the researcher’s part but shows the results of a study which deviates from the truth.
Bias can be attributed to chance (for example, a random error) or the research methods (systematic bias). A random error does not affect the results, but it does affect the precision of the study. On the other hand, systematic bias has a direction and significantly affects the results. Systematic biases arise from the study’s methodology, whether it is how study participants were chosen, how data was collected, or through the researchers’ analysis or interpretation.
Was The Study Carried Out Following The Original Protocol?
Deviations from the planned protocol can impact the study’s validity or relevance. For example, one of the most common issues in clinical research is the failure to recruit the intended number of participants. The deviation from the study plan not only potentially reduces the extent to which the study’s results can be generalised to real-world situations, but it also reduces the study’s power to demonstrate significant findings. You will have to highlight such implications in your critical appraisal essay.
Is The Study Designed To Test A Specific Hypothesis?
A hypothesis represents what the investigators expect the study to find. It is essential to any research because it states the research question in a form that can be tested and refuted.
A null hypothesis states that the findings of a study are no different from what would be expected to happen by chance. Statistical hypothesis testing entails calculating the likelihood of obtaining the observed results if the null hypothesis is true. If the probability is low (typically less than 1:20 or P 0.05), the null hypothesis is rejected, and the findings are said to be statistically significant at that level.
Were The Statistical Analyses Carried Out Properly?
A common student may struggle to evaluate the appropriateness of statistical analyses. All quantitative research articles, however, should include a section within their ‘Method’ section that explains the tools used in the statistical analysis and the rationale for this approach, written in terms appropriate for the journal’s readership. The approach to missing data and the statistical techniques used should be specified. The original data should be presented so readers can check the paper’s statistical accuracy.
Do The Facts Support The Conclusions?
The next point to consider while writing a critical appraisal essay is whether the authors’ conclusions are reasonable in light of the available data. Some researchers may overemphasise statistically significant findings that invoke differences that are too small to be clinically significant; alternatively, some may dismiss large and potentially important differences between groups that are not statistically significant, often due to small sample sizes. Other concerns include whether the authors extrapolated their findings to larger groups of patients or contexts than was reasonable given their study sample and whether statistically significant associations were misinterpreted to imply a cause-and-effect relationship. Many students fail to address these concerns. Law essay writing services can help them comprehend and craft such essays professionally.
Are There Any Potential Conflicts Of Interest?
When personal factors have the potential to influence professional roles or responsibilities, a conflict of interest occurs.
Members of a research team must make decisions that have the potential to affect participant safety and the validity of the research findings. If there is any potential conflict of interest, your critical appraisal essay should highlight it.
These tips are the best to follow when writing a critical appraisal essay. You can hire essay writing services to craft the best essays per your instructions and guidelines if you are not good at writing academic papers.
Read: All You Need To Know About Composing a Research Problem