Evidence-based expert: Help nurses critique journal articles

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, December 12, 2008

This week's experts, Suzanne C. Beyea, RN, PhD, FAAN, and Mary Jo Slattery, RN, MS, explain how to guide nurses to critique journal articles.

Q. How do you teach nurses and other caregivers how to critique journal articles? Is there a down and dirty way to explain what to look for?

A. The overall goal of a research critique is to evaluate a study's merits and its applicability to clinical practice. A research critique goes beyond a review or summary of a study, and it carefully appraises a study's strengths and limitations. By evaluating a study's component parts, the critique should assess objectively a study's validity and significance.

Beyea and Nicoll (2007) published a simple guide of 10 questions to use when reading and discussing a research article. The questions can be used to assess the quality of the study and to determine its applicability to clinical practice. They are:

  1. What is the research question?
  2. What is the basis for the research question?
  3. Why is the research question important?
  4. How was the research question studied?
  5. Does the study make sense?
  6. Were the correct subjects selected for the study?
  7. Was the research question answered?
  8. Does the answer make sense?
  9. What is next?
  10. So what?

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