Our guidelines

We want to preserve consistency across all appraisals published on our website. We are publishing these guidelines that all potential authors of critical appraisal articles should follow before publishing on Sceptical Medic.

Choosing a paper

When researching available evidence for successful journal clubs, in our article What is a journal club we identified presenting original research articles only as one of the common features. With this spirit in mind we allow only original research articles to be critically appraised and presented on Sceptical Medic website.

Article of choice should have these features in order to be presented:

  • original research article
  • published in medical journal with impact factor
  • indexed in MEDLINE
  • published in last 12 months
  • internal medicine or medical subspeciality-related

Broadly speaking, most of the recent articles from renowned medical journals will be happily accepted. When in doubt, feel free to use contact form to check.

Structure of the appraisal

General template

We appreciate that every author has a distinct writing style and every appraisal should be individualised. It is difficult to find a fine balance between standard consistency and individual signature. 

At minimum every critical appraisal should be structured into 4 main topics:

  1. Introduction
  2. Methods
  3. Results
  4. Discussion

Where appropriate following should be discussed: background, sponsors, study design, population, eligibility criteria, study protocol, outcomes, analysis, follow-up, drawbacks. 

Critical Appraisal Checklist

We use critical appraisal checklist system developed by Critical Appraisal Skills Programme and shared under non-commercial Creative Commons 3.0 licence. This is done for multiple reasons:

  1. Ensures all important aspects of critical appraisal are met.
  2. Preserves consistency across all appraisals.
  3. Speeds review process.

All of the questions in individual CASP checklist are expected to be answered in the appraisal.

Citation style

We use the Harvard System of Referencing (6th edition) for all citations on the website. Please refer to your bibliography manager of choice for further guidance.

Declaration of interest

Every author of the critical appraisal is expected to declare all potential conflicts of interest along with their current medical post and relevant background, where appropriate or desired.