Available Until 9/22/2023

Beyond the Pyramids: A Critical Appraisal Survey Course*

For more information on this course, or to schedule, contact Marie Ascher at marie_ascher@nymc.edu.

A short survey course in Critical Appraisal. Medical librarian hero Lucretia McClure said, "I think the future of librarians is going to be directly related to more science. I think they need more biology; I think they need more genetics; I think they need more of what the medical schools are utilizing. I don’t know that the library schools can do that or should do it, but I think we need to find out about it. I think there are skills that we’re going to need down the road, and I don’t know that we’re prepared for it."

These are those skills.

Librarians are more and more frequently given the opportunity to participate in the education of physicians and other health care professionals via evidence-based medicine (EBM) curricular themes. Librarians are uniquely qualified in teaching students to acquire information but are not (by default) trained to critically appraise the literature.  This course introduces the topic, provides rationale for critical appraisal as a natural fit for librarians, introduces some statistical concepts, and provides hands-on exercises based on examples from the medical literature. The course concludes with a personal action plan. It is a good starting point for those librarians who want a short survey course in critical appraisal before committing to a longer course.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this session participants will be able to:

  1. Describe at least three reasons why critical appraisal is important area of professional development for both librarians and to health care professionals.
  2. Identify at least three types of bias present in research studies.
  3. Provide a basic interpretation of several types of statistical results.
  4. Describe one action plan item in their own professional development in this area.


  • Introductions (Instructor and participants): 10 minutes         
  • Why critical appraisal? 20 minutes
  • Q&A: 10 minutes         
  • Critical appraisal thinking – a deeper dive into the literature. An overview of the field with specific examples and small group exercises:
    • Biases and fatal flaws (knowing the difference): 30 minutes
    • Statistics primer: 10 minutes
    • Study design and results - Overview - with exercise: 30 minutes
    • Study design and results - Therapy studies - 30 minutes
  • Break 10 minutes
  • Study design and results - Etiology study - 30 minutes
  • Study design and results - Harm study - 30 minutes
  • What it could look like? Curricular themes, journal clubs, clinical librarianship… and how to get there at your institution. 10 minutes
  • Professional development – how to get there? (Next steps and review of resource list) 10 minutes
  • Developing an action plan. 15 minutes
  • Wrap up: 10 minutes

MLA CE Credits: 4