PICOT Appraising the Literature




  • Length: A minimum of 250 words per post, not including references
  • Citations: At least one high-level scholarly reference in APA per post from within the last 5 years


An essential component of evidence-based practice is critical appraisal. Medical databases like CINAHL or Medline provide many results that vary in quality. Critical appraisal allows the researcher to focus on articles relevant to the research question; it reduces information overload by eliminating irrelevant studies. It also identifies the most relevant studies, distinguishes evidence, assesses the study’s validity, assesses the applicability of the study, and recognizes any potential for bias (Morrison, 2017). To guide me in making informed decisions regarding the quality of the research evidence, I will utilize a critical appraisal tool checklist. Applicable for healthcare and the most well-known list is the CASP Checklist. Oxford’s CEBM Checklist, Cardiff University Critical Appraisal Checklist, and University of Glasgow’s Understanding Health Research appraisal checklist (“Literature Reviewing,” 2021). 

Formulating the research question in a PICOT format enables effective research by allowing for the best and most relevant information and saves time (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2019). It is crucial to rely mostly on primary sources in a research review. A productive strategy in searching for literature is utilizing bibliographic databases like CINAHL and MEDLINE by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Another strategy is the ancestry approach or footnote chasing, which tracks the citations used in relevant studies. Meanwhile, the descendancy approach finds a foundational early study and searches forward to the most relevant recent studies (Polit & Beck, 2018).

After searching for references, researchers screen for relevancy by reading the abstract; the documentation of the literature retrieval is essential to promote efficiency by preventing unintended replication and keeping track of searched literature and the jargon used. Abstracting and recording information is also necessary to organize and analyze data. In making conclusions about the body of completed evidence, it is vital to evaluate and analyze and integrate the evidence across the studies. Analyzing and synthesizing the evidence identifies the themes. A thematic analysis detects patterns and consistencies, as well as irregularities. (Polit & Beck, 2018).


Literature Reviewing: Critically Appraise. (2021, June 4). Edinburgh Napier University, LibGuides. https://libguides.napier.ac.uk/litrev/critapp

Melnyk, B.M. & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2019). Evidence-based practice in nursing and healthcare (4th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Morrison, K. (2017, December 8). Dissecting the literature: The importance of critical appraisal. Royal College of Surgeons of England. https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/library-and-publications/library/blog/dissecting-the-literature-the-importance-of-critical-appraisal/

Polit, D.F. & Beck, C.T. (2018). Essentials of nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice (9th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.


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