Wikipedia for critical appraisal: not bad

Critical appraisal is the method by which you can assess research for its reliability, relevance and results (the 3Rs).

Often, critical appraisal is taught as though it should be a careful examination of a research paper: given the fact that no one has the time for this careful examination, and it just isn’t feasible, given the sheer amount of research that is published each day, then the answer has to be, know your biases – really well -and then apply them in a more systematic speedy way.

Wikipedia therefore offers a neat option to read about and learn some more about this stuff, but the question is what’s in there and how much of appraisal does it cover?

Overall, my assessment is there are some appraisal nerds out there doing a good job. In terms of what to have a look at:

The page on randomized controlled trials is pretty comprehensive and includes a section on randomization procedures, allocation concealment.

A Blind experiment page explains single, double and even triple blinding.

A Clinical endpoint page points to a comprehensive surrogate endpoints page, which covers problems with composite outcomes (could do with little more editing, if not its own page)

Page on systematic reviews could do with a work up, and the page on Evidence-Based Medicine is quite comprehensive, but goes off at a tangent at times.

In terms of results there is a page on absolute risk reduction and number needed to treat, which aren’t bad but could be better. And the page on relative risk includes one of my favourite formulas:




Overall Wikipedia – not bad.

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