Critical appraisal refers to the skill of reading a piece of research in a very objective and structured way. It allows for the reader to assess the quality and validity of the evidence put forward. With the emphasis on evidence-based practice in the medical profession, the ability to critically appraise the literature should be instilled into medical students. Currently, the push to encourage research shows great effort in the medical curriculum, through the incorporation of elective research programmes, by many medical institutions. But how ready are the students to even understand the research literature, let alone conduct a research? The current system throws these students into 'the deep end' of research conduct without equipping them with the tools necessary to do so. Very often this becomes a problem that snowballs through specialist training right up to the practice of medicine. The possibilities and means of introducing the skills of critical appraisal via the curriculum should be explored. In this age of self-directed and problem-based learning, a purely didactic teaching method of "how to read the literature" is surely outdated. The concept should be integrated into medical teaching, including within the implementation of the PBL system, in both the clinical and non-clinical settings, and by the introduction of the 'journal club' concept. Training of the trainers should also be considered. With the early training of critical appraisal, it can hopefully become an unconscious competence of medical graduates, who not only can produce quality research, but also able to identify quality information.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.