Research Design and Critical Appraisal

The details
Health and Social Care (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Wednesday 15 January 2020
Wednesday 18 March 2020
04 March 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module provides the student with an advanced understanding of the research study designs commonly used in health research. It combines a theoretical with a practical approach to enable students to search for, obtain, and understand the research literature and the critical skills to analyse and synthesis the material into a literature review. The module covers the following themes:
* Principles of research and research methods.
* Critical appraisal and reviewing research literature
* Credibility, responsibility and ethics

Module objectives:
By the end of the module, students should:
* Have an advanced understanding of the range of research methods that are in common use in their discipline.
* Be able to conduct and report a rigorous and advanced search for research literature.
* Critically appraise research papers and construct a literature review.
* Apply research findings, including literature reviews, within their working practice.

Module aims

This module aims to develop rigorous critical appraisal skills to support evidence based practice in health and social care. It aims to develop a rich understanding of research methods in order to appraise published materials to apply evidence in practice settings, and to support the skills necessary to produce a literature review that appraises, synthesises and interprets the implications of a body of evidence.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the [learner] will be able to:

Develop an appropriate research question relevant to health and social care pratice

Have an advanced understanding of the range of research methods that are in common use in their discipline

Be able to conduct and report a rigorous and advanced search for research literature

Critically appraise research papers and construct a literature review

Apply research findings, including literature reviews, within their working practice

Module information

Evidence based practice and leadership is an essential component of responsive and responsible health and social care policy, strategy, leadership, service provision and coordination of action for health. To scrutinise the knowledge that informs and guides practice, the practitioner needs to be research-literate and a critical consumer of research evidence. This module develops rigorous critical appraisal skills for evidence based practice, and in particular supports the process of acquiring, appraising and making inferences from published evidence.

Learning and teaching methods

The module uses lectures and computer lab sessions supported by self-study formative tasks that develop the student's own literature review project. Group tutorial and supported study time runs after most lectures to facilitate the formative tasks. Further resources and guidance are available through Moodle.


  • Greenhalgh, Trisha. (2019) How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine and healthcare, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
  • Dew, Kevin. (2007) 'A health researcher's guide to qualitative methodologies', in Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. vol. 31 (5) , pp.433-437
  • World Health Organisation and Regional Office for the Western Pacific. (2001) Health research methodology: a guide for training in research methods, Manila, Philippines: WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific.
  • PRISMA, http://prisma-statement.org/PRISMAStatement/
  • O'Brien, G. M.; Donaghue, N.; Walker, I.; Wood, C. A. (2014-12-01) 'Deservingness and Gratitude in the Context of Heart Transplantation', in Qualitative Health Research. vol. 24 (12) , pp.1635-1647
  • Aveyard, Helen. (2019) Doing a literature review in health and social care: a practical guide, London: Open University Press.
  • T. Greenhalgh; J. Howick; N. Maskrey. (2014) 'Evidence based medicine: a movement in crisis?', in BMJ. vol. 348
  • Booth, A. (2006) '“Brimful of STARLITE”: toward standards for reporting literature searches', in Journal of the Medical Library Association. vol. 94 (4) , pp.421-
  • Seale, Clive; Silverman, D. (1997) 'Ensuring rigour in qualitative research', in The European Journal of Public Health: The Oxford University Press. vol. 7 (4) , pp.379-384
  • NICE National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2012) Methods for the development of NICE public health guidance.
  • Burls, A. (no date) What is critical appraisal?.
  • Wildridge, Valerie; Bell, Lucy. (2002) 'How CLIP became ECLIPSE: a mnemonic to assist in searching for health policy/management information', in Health Information and Libraries Journal. vol. 19 (2) , pp.113-115
  • Aveyard, Helen; Sharp, Pam; Woolliams, Mary. (2015) A beginner's guide to critical thinking and writing in health and social care, Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Philip Lindner et al. (2014) 'The impact of telephone versus e-mail therapist guidance on treatment outcomes, therapeutic alliance and treatment engagement in Internet-delivered CBT for depression: A randomised pilot trial', in Internet Interventions. vol. 1 (4) , pp.182-187
  • Davies, Huw; Crombie, Ian. (no date) What are confidence intervals and p-values?.
  • Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, http://handbook.cochrane.org/

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   3000 word literature review resubmission     
Coursework   3,000 word literature review   23/04/2020  100% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
0% 0%


Coursework Exam
0% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Caroline Barratt, email: barrattc@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Caroline Barratt
Caroline Barratt E: barrattc@essex.ac.uk Jade D'Mello Senior Student Administrator E: jedmel@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Nicola Clarke
Birmingham City University
Senior Lecturer/Professional Navigator/Academic Advisor/Seda Accredited Doctoral
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 16 (72.7%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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