• To appreciate why reading and understanding research is an important part of evidence-based practice
• To benefit from an easy-to-use critical appraisal framework to evaluate quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research
• To understand critical concepts and how to apply them to contextualise the framework
Abstract Background Evidence-based practice is embedded in all aspects of nursing and care. Understanding research evidence and being able to identify the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of published primary research is an essential skill of the evidence-based practitioner. However, it can be daunting and seem overly complex.
Aim To provide a single framework that researchers can use when reading, understanding and critically assessing published research.
Discussion To make sense of published research papers, it is helpful to understand some key concepts and how they relate to either quantitative or qualitative designs. Internal and external validity, reliability and trustworthiness are discussed. An illustration of how to apply these concepts in a practical way using a standardised framework to systematically assess a paper is provided.
Conclusion The ability to understand and evaluate research builds strong evidence-based practitioners, who are essential to nursing practice.
Implications for practice This framework should help readers to identify the strengths, potential weaknesses and limitations of a paper to judge its quality and potential usefulness.
Nurse Researcher. 29, 1, 32-41. doi: 10.7748/nr.2021.e1760Correspondence
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated softwareConflict of interest
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