EBLIP6 report: pre-conference workshop on critical appraisal

Lorie Kloda and Alison Millis

Lorie Kloda & Alison Millis

The first of our EBLIP6 reviews is by Alison Millis, Training and Outreach Manager, Library and Knowledge Services, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, @alisonmillis. Alison reports on a pre-conference workshop on critical appraisal. The workshop was led by Lorie Kloda (@loriekloda). Lorie has taught evidence based medicine for the last ten years. She is Associate Librarian at McGill University, Montreal, and an Associate Editor of EBLIP Journal.

Lorie’s session on critical appraisal took place on one of the hottest days of the year so far – tropical temperatures for a hot topic! Lorie said that her challenge in preparing the session had been to find a paper that was short enough to be critically appraised in the limited time available, but she managed to do so. The paper chosen was “Do clickers improve library instruction? Lock in your answers now” by Emily Dill.

The session was structured in five parts:

  1. reliability, validity and applicability
  2. critical appraisal exercise
  3. discussion
  4. short cuts
  5. wrap-up

The session started with a PowerPoint presentation which covered reliability, validity and applicability. Then the paper for appraisal was examined. Lorie handed out the RELIANT instrument which divides the task of analysis of a paper into four different areas:

  1. study design
  2. educational context
  3. results
  4. relevance

Each area had a series of questions to be answered. This is a checklist, which was not familiar to all participating, proved to be an effective tool. The participants then worked in four groups, each concentrating on one of the four areas listed above. Each group had the opportunity to give feedback on their area, and this provoked some interesting discussions.

Finally Lorie recommended two key short cuts for appraisal when time is short. These were to (1) start at the end and (2) work backwards. This technique comprises checking the results and findings to see if they are relevant and applicable to practice, then continuing with the evaluation of the paper, followed by an examination of the method deployed in the study, and finally a reading of the paper in its entirety.


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