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Edward G. Miner Library

Med Students: Phase 1: Session 3: Appraise, Apply, and Assess

This guide will serve as an information resource for first year medical students at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Appraise, Assess, Apply

Learning Objectives:

  • Become familiar with additional foreground and point of care tools
  • Understand basics of critical appraisal
  • Hands on application of asking and acquiring skills to cases

Reading a Paper

Critical Appraisal

There are many useful resources about how to read specific papers (i.e. therapy, preventative screening, systematic reviews…etc.

For example, The Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) develops, teaches, promotes, and disseminates better evidence for health care.

  • Finding the evidence: a how-to guide- 1 - Using PICO to formulate a search question. 2 - Turning search terms into a search strategy. 3 - Turning your search strategy into results (searching PubMed).
  • Critical Appraisal tools- Critical appraisal worksheets to help you appraise the reliability, importance, and applicability of clinical evidence.
  •  Number Needed to Treat (NNT)- The Number Needed to Treat (NNT) is the number of patients you need to treat to prevent one additional bad outcome (death, stroke, etc.).
  • Likelihood Ratios- The Likelihood Ratio (LR) is the likelihood that a given test result would be expected in a patient with the target disorder compared to the likelihood that that same result would be expected in a patient without the target disorder.
  • Study designs- A guide to the different study types and a comparison of the pros and cons

There are several sources for free, downloadable critical appraisal worksheets or checklists.  These worksheets guide you through the steps of critical appraisal. Worksheets are tailored to the type of study being appraised. 

  • Critical Appraisal Worksheet by CEBM Centre for Evidence-based Medicine provides useful tools and downloads for the critical appraisal of different types of medical evidence. Example appraisal sheets are provided together with several helpful examples.
  • CASP Checklists This set of eight (8) critical appraisal tools are designed to be used when reading research, these include tools for Systematic Reviews, Randomized Controlled Trials, Cohort Studies, Case-Control Studies, Economic Evaluations, Diagnostic Studies, Qualitative studies, and Clinical Prediction Rule.
  • Knowledge Translation Program (Toronto) Critical appraisal worksheets from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Toronto, including the worksheets for diagnosis, harm, prognosis, systematic review, and therapy.

Evidence Based Medicine Books



Browse the most recent issues of a wide array of journals in an electronic format. You can build your own bookshelf of journals you would like to receive updates when new issues come out. 

  • iPad version provides PDFs that can be saved in a variety of programs such as reference management software, or Notability.
  • Web Version allows patrons to read articles online from a web browser.
  • Receive email updates when a new issue saved to your bookshelf is available 
  • Requires an account to save favorite journals.
  • Available to University of Rochester students, staff, and faculty from Miner Library.

Levels of Evidence and Study Designs

 Click the image to enlarge it.Illustration of the EBM Levels of Evidence Pyramid with descriptions of each type of study


Spotting Bad Science

Illustration describing how to recognize bad science