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Evidence Based Practice

Appraising the Evidence

Criteria for Appraisal 

When appraising research, keep the following three criteria in mind:

Quality: Trials that are randomized and double blind, to avoid selection and observer bias, and where we know what happened to most of the subjects in the trial.

Validity: Trials that mimic clinical practice, or could be used in clinical practice, and with outcomes that make sense. For instance, in chronic disorders we want long-term, not short-term trials. We are [also] ... interested in outcomes that are large, useful, and statistically very significant (p < 0.01, a 1 in 100 chance of being wrong).

Size: Trials (or collections of trials) that have large numbers of patients, to avoid being wrong because of the random play of chance. For instance, to be sure that a number needed to treat (NNT) of 2.5 is really between 2 and 3, we need results from about 500 patients. If that NNT is above 5, we need data from thousands of patients.

These are the criteria on which we should judge evidence. For it to be strong evidence, it has to fulfill the requirements of all three criteria.

Literature Review Matrix

A literature review matrix allows you to organize your sources and compare a range of studies across a variety of elements. Each matrix should include author, date, and purpose; you can determine the other categories based on the factors that you'd like to focus on (i.e. methodology, population sample, variables, etc.). 

Start by organizing your sources in chronological order. This will be useful for observing change in the research over time. 

As you read all of the studies, consider which elements of the research process are significant and worth comparing for your literature review. See below for a literature review matrix sample and an Excel spreadsheet template. 

Writing Center Appointments

The Spalding University Writing Center is located on the 2nd floor of the University Library in the PNC Center for Student Success.

Hours: 8 am-6 pm Monday-Friday

Consultations are usually 45 minutes. Please bring your assignment sheet and any other supporting materials. 

Our goal is to help you in the writing process; we usually focus on two or three areas of revision opportunity in your work. 

You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (502) 873-4494 or by emailing us at [email protected].

You can also submit your work for online feedback via the link below:

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