The Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society

: 2021  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1--2

Critical evaluation of publications

N Gopi Chander 
 Editor, The Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. N Gopi Chander
Department of Prosthodontics, SRM Dental College, SRM University, Chennai - 600 089, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Chander N G. Critical evaluation of publications.J Indian Prosthodont Soc 2021;21:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Chander N G. Critical evaluation of publications. J Indian Prosthodont Soc [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Feb 26 ];21:1-2
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Critical evaluation is the process of examining the research for the strength or weakness of the findings, validity, relevance, and usefulness of the research findings.[1] The availability of extensive information and the difficulty in differentiating the relevant information obligate the primary need of critical appraisal. In addition, it establishes superior evidence and increases the application to clinical practice.[2] More importantly, it differentiates between significant and/or insignificant data in the literature and aids in providing the updated information. The purpose of critical appraisal shall help in informed decision and improve the quality of healthcare provided to patients.[1],[2],[3]

The research data have three possible outcomes – true findings, random variation that occurs due to chance, and biased results due to systematic error.[4] The true findings can be of positive or negative results, but it shall be highly recognized. The random error or actual result deviation occurs due to the uncontrollable factors such as smaller sample size and confounding factors. The random error does not alter the measured value, but it is an imperfect error caused due to study design inconsistencies. These errors are unpredictable and cannot be repeated again by repeating the analysis. The biased results are deliberate deviation in the study design, methodology, or investigations. The deviations in the result can be due to poor designing, to the methodology, or in the analysis. It will be difficult to differentiate these findings without critical analysis of the literature.[5],[6]

There are various guidelines and tools proposed to critically evaluate the literature.[7],[8],[9] Since the scientific literature is in constant evolution, no one guidelines or checklist is considered to be gold standard. Moreover, the appraisal varies with the type of research. The checklist provided by various organizations for designing or structuring manuscripts - case report, reviews, and original research - cannot be combined or generalized for use. Similarly, it varies with the types of study design - randomized clinical trials and observational studies –case–control, cohort, and cross-sectional studies. The methodological guidelines such as consort statements, CARE guidelines, PROSPERO, or Cochrane checklists can significantly aid in the evaluation of different types of research data.[10] The structured approach and checklists provided by the organizations can be a valuable aid to conduct research as well as critically evaluate the manuscripts. In addition to the guidelines, the simplified checklists proposed by Young and Solomon can be of adjuvant tool in critical assessment of the literature.[1] It consists of 10 simple rules. That includes relevance of study question, new information to existing literature, type of research question, appropriateness of study design, bias appraisal, adherence of study protocol, hypothesis testing, check or estimation of statistical analysis, validation of conclusion, and identification of conflicts of interest. These checklists along with updated methodological guidelines for different types of study designs can be a valuable tool for critical appraisal of the literature.[1],[10]

Most of the tools assess the validity, reliability, bias, and clinical application of the research data. The validity aids in determining the accuracy of the results, and the reliability establishes the consistency of the results. The bias is systemic deviation of results. The bias is of many types: it can be of from the initiation of the study to manuscript publication. Various assessment tools have been proposed to determine the bias. More commonly employed are the GRADE, Grade pro, Newcastle Ottawa, jaded, ROB 2, and ARRIVE 2.[11] The bias tools vary with the type of study design, and it is significant to use the appropriate tool. The tools assess and grade the quality of bias in the manuscript. These tools are majorly used for evaluating randomized control trial employed for systematic review and meta-analysis but can be suitably employed to different study designs. These tools provide the grading of bias and provide useful data that are essential for clinical application.[11],[12]

Rapid appraisal can be done with merit trials/rapid critical appraisal tool.[6] It is a compressed tool that basically assesses on the validity, reliability, and clinical use of the study. This is a simplified checklist for quicker assessment; however, for more accurate assessment, it is essential to appraise the entire manuscript from introduction till the conclusion. This mandates a detailed check for every component of the literature in accordance to the standard guidelines. In addition, the journal indexing and metrics can play a significant role in estimation. Higher metric journal shall possess more rigorous peer-review process that reduces the significant errors in the manuscript.[3],[4]

The major contents to be generally assessed in the introduction of the manuscript are type and contents of research question, justification of purpose/background of the study with articles published in the last 5 years, or older articles that possess significant influences, citations of peer-reviewed journal, defined objective, and hypothesis statement. In methodology, the parameter of appraisal parameters should be on study design, inclusion and exclusion criteria, care in reduction of bias, following the acceptable procedures, control on confounding variables, and valid outcome measures. The result section should be checked for the subject and baseline - demographic, relevant statistical tests, and statistical significance. The discussion should possess adequate literature substantiation for results, study limitations, and declarations on conflicts of interest.[6]

In the prosthodontic literature, extensive reports of similar nature exist; critical analysis of the literature is a necessary skill to be mastered by researchers and clinicians.[10] It helps clinicians to make quality evidenced healthcare decisions by extensive evaluation of the literature.


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