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Veterinary - Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine: Evaluating resources

Critically appraising veterinary literature

A core component of evidence-based medicine is understanding how to assess the research evidence that is available. Critically assessing research evidence involves evaluating the quality and validity of the study, as well as whether the study is applicable to your current clinical question.


As you critically assess a study, ask yourself the following questions*:

  1. Does this study address a clearly focused question?
  2. Did the study use valid methods to address this question?
  3. Are the valid results of this study important?
  4. Are these valid, important results applicable to my patient or population?


Use the links below to find guidelines for assessing methodologies and checklists for appraising different types of studies, as well as links to resources that teach how to read and assess medical literature.


*Questions from The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine's Critical Appraisal Tools.

Critical appraisal tools

Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Critical Appraisal Tools

Provides appraisal checklists in a variety of languages for various types of research question and types of study.

CONSORT Checklist for Randomized Controlled Trials

Provides a checklist for appraising RCTs.

Critical Appraisal Tools from the Joanna Briggs Institute

Provides appraisal checklists for various types of study.

Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives Evidence-based Practice: Appraise resources

Provides appraisal worksheets for a variety of study types, as well as articles that explain how to use various study types in evidence-based practice.

Equator Network

Provides guidelines for assessing methodologies for different study designs.


Upload Randomized Controlled Trial articles into this machine-learning tool, and the tool automatically determines information about how the trial was conducted.

Students 4 Best Medicine Critical Appraisal: a Checklist

Provides twenty general questions to help determine the reliability and applicability of a study.

Resources for learning to read and critically appraise veterinary literature

Fausak, Erik & Moberly, Heather. (2015). It's Evidentiary, My Dear Watson: Searching for the Evidence You Need to Practice. North American Veterinary Technician Journal.

After reading this article, participants will be able to define Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine (EBVM), have the tools to develop a clinical question, and an understanding of how the type of evidence is hierarchical in clinical decision making.

Holmes, M.A., 2007. Evaluation of the Evidence. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice.

Evaluating the evidence describes the scientific basis of evidence as presented in papers describing the results of clinical research. The types of errors that may lead to misinterpretation of evidence are discussed. This article includes descriptions of the main types of research performed in veterinary clinical research and notes on their advantages and disadvantages.

Pinchbeck, G. L. and Archer, D. C. (2018). How to critically appraise a paper. Equine Veterinary Education. Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology

Critical appraisal skills enabling assessment of the validity and importance of evidence are essential for clinicians to make informed decisions regarding what new information should be incorporated into their clinical practice. This review highlights key points to consider in a critical review concentrating on common study designs used in the equine literature.

Subramanyam, R., 2013. Art of reading a journal article: Methodically and effectively.

Presents a method to read articles published in scientific journals.

Trevejo, R.T., 2007. A Small Animal Clinician's Guide to Critical Appraisal of the Evidence in Scientific Literature. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice.

There is a tremendous amount of medical literature available to the clinician. The challenge is to identify information that is useful and relevant for the patient population of interest. This article provides an overview of important considerations when critically appraising a report, such as selection of the study population, features of the study design used, potential sources of bias, and evaluation of the statistical evidence.

BMJ's How to Read a Paper

This page contains links to journal articles dealing with a variety of topics related to reading articles.

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