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Literature review: Evaluating results

Evaluating results - Study Skills Handbook for postgraduate students


Use the Critical Analysis templates provided by Wallace and Wray. See link to their Post-graduate Study Skills Handbook and companion website below for more information on critical analysis techniques.


Wallace, Mike, and Wray, Alison, Author. Critical Reading and Writing for Postgraduates. 3rd ed. SAGE Study Skills. 2016. See link to the library catalogue and more information below:

Evaluating results - Study Skills Handbook for undergraduates

For a more basic checklist, Cottrell's Study Skills Handbook is a useful starting point. 

Cottrell, Stella. The Study Skills Handbook. 5th ed. Palgrave Study Skills. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. 

See link to the library catalogue and more information below:

Online tutorials

See also the Epigeum tutorial Research Methods in Literature Review, Module 3: Evaluation of the literature on Blackboard GST1. See screenshot from this section below:




Guidance from CASP for Health researchers

The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) is part of Better Value Healthcare, a training organisation led by Professor Sir Muir Gray, and based in Oxford. The programme has developed workshops and tools for critical appraisal covering a wide range of research. It has also developed finding the evidence workshops, interactive and e-learning resources.

Appraising the evidence 

"Where an article is published, or who wrote it should not be an indication of its trustworthiness and relevance. Using critical appraisal skills and tools enables users of research evidence to reach their own judgements.


CASP approaches research in 3 steps:

1. Is the study valid?


The first step is to decide whether the study was unbiased by evaluating its methodological quality. Different criteria for validity of articles are used for different types of questions on: treatment, diagnosis, prognosis and economic evaluation. Depending on the validity of an article we can classify it within a scale of levels of evidence and degrees of recommendation.


2. What are the results?

If we decide that the study is valid, we can go on to look at the results. At this step we consider whether the study’s results are clinically important. For example, did the experimental group show a significantly better outcome compared with the control group? We also consider how much uncertainty there is about the results, as expressed in the form of p values, confidence intervals and sensitivity analysis.


3. Are the results useful?

Once you have decided that your evidence is valid and important, you need to think about how it applies to your question. It is likely, for example, that your patient or population may have different characteristics to those in the study. Critical appraisal skills provides a framework within which to consider these issues in an explicit, transparent way."


See CASP's  checklists for helping to appraise research papers here

Citation analyis

Scopus and Web of Science citation databases index the references cited by articles as well as the articles themselves.You may use Scopus and Web of Science to find out how many times an author or article has been cited by other researchers. It is often used to determine an article's "impact" in a particular discipline i.e. how it has been received by the research community. This can be a useful method to measure or assess the ‘value’ or relevance of the information for your research.

See also, section on Guidance from Centre for Reviews & Dissemination, University of York regarding citation searching.

With a citation databases you can find prior research, recent citations and related papers, as illustrated in screenshot below:




With Scopus and Web of Science you can: 

  • Identify key authors
  • Identify key journals
  • Identify review articles
  • Identify highly cited articles and seminal works 
  • Refine search results to highly cited and hot papers (Web of Science)
  • Perform cited reference search (WoS which also includes Book Citation Index)
  • Find the impact factor of a journal in Science / Social Sciences (JCR / WoS)
  • Compare journals using other metrics such as SNIP, SJR (Scopus)
  • Link to Ulrichsweb directory of 300,000 journals (WoS)

In addition: Google Scholar provides links to ‘cited by’ information which is important for disciplines whose research publications are not well covered by Scopus and Web of Science.

Web of Science cited reference search tutorial

If you are new to citation searching, start with this tutorial from Web of Science How to do a cited reference search (4 minutes):


For tutorials, more information and training links see our library guide

Scopus tutorials and off campus access

For an overview of Scopus, see this 11 minute tutorial:

For tutorials, more training links and information about using Scopus off-campus see our library guide


Citation databases - Library guides