Author, I. (date of publication if available). Title of article. Retrieved [date accessed] from the World Wide Web: [Web site address]
Where: Where did this article/Web page appear? Is this reasonable? Is the publishing entity respectable/responsible?
Who: Who wrote/published the article/Web page? What are their credentials? Are the credentials appropriate for their argument?
When: Is this current information? If yes, do you think it will stand the “test of time”? If no, is it outdated or is it classic?
What: What argument is/are the author(s) making? Is it logical? Based on what you know, is it reasonable? What evidence is given to support the argument? Can you think of evidence to refute it?
How: How was the supporting/refuting evidence collected? Is this credible? What kind of evidence do you think needs to be gathered to test the argument? Did the author(s) do this?
Summarize the quality of the article (it does not have to be a “good” article in your opinion), and whether you consider this to be a worthwhile and trustworthy article. Did you think it was biased? Could the author have underlying motives? What do you think? Is it valid?
NOTE: Do not simply answer yes or no to the questions above. Write a thoughtful response to each section.
SAMPLE CRITICAL REVIEW
Virginia Norris Critical Review
Eggenberger, T. Sentinel node biopsy. Retrieved August 30, 2001, from the World Wide Web: http://www.intellihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/9103/29497.html
Where: The Intellihealth Web site is a general information health Web site. It draws information from “trusted sources” (e.g., Harvard Medical School, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine); however, it sells health products and is financed by an insurance company. They do not endorse specific products. In general, the information on this site should be viewed with caution but may be an appropriate first step.
Who: Ty Eggenberger, a correspondent for Intellihealth. No evidence is given for the author’s credentials, but the Web site indicates that the editors are experts and use trusted sources.
When: Although the site was last updated 8/27/01, there is no indication when the article was written. It appears to be current, but this cannot be evaluated.
What: This article reviews a new diagnostic procedure, sentinel node biopsy, for breast cancer. They suggest that women investigate this option, but caution that the surgeon’s experience level is associated with diagnostic accuracy. The information is supported with quotations from a surgeon at a prestigious hospital. The argument appears reasonable and is appropriately cautious. If I were looking for advice on this issue, I would search in more clinically oriented databases to look for data on hits and misses for this diagnostic tool.
How: I was disappointed that no source was cited. This makes it difficult for me to evaluate how the evidence was collected.
In summary, this is a good first-step article that presents a new diagnostic tool; however, before insisting on this type of biopsy over an axillary dissection, I would look for further information.