How to read a scientific article

December 18, 2019

Keeping up-to-date and determining the veracity of scientific articles and clinical documentation can be overwhelming, so we've put together a checklist to help the healthcare professional to judge:

  • How reliable the results are (the articles strengths, weaknesses and validity)

  • What they mean for you in your clinical work

In fact, for a scientific article to be deemed credible, certain data must be present.

In this article, we provide an excerpt from the checklist.


Created by clinical professionals, this checklist outlines the criteria to look for when gauging the quality of a published study. Here's some of the topics covered:

  • Purpose of the study

    Why was the study performed? The purpose, which can be both primary and secondary, should be compared with the conclusion.

  • Type of study / Study design

    Is it a prospective or retrospective study? Generally prospective studies are more reliable,since the criteria are set before the patients are treated. Results from randomized controlled trials outweigh non–randomized, larger studies outweigh smaller and blinded studies outweigh open studies.

  • Study Design/Method

    The method used is of great importance for the outcome of the results. What is the strength in study design and what do previous studies say? Is the used method described well (which is important for reproducing)? What was the length of follow–up?

  • Number of clinics involved

    How many clinics are involved? If more than one clinic is involved in the study it is more likely that the results can be repeated.

Download the checklist (PDF)

Topics: Science Alert, Scientific Article, Clinical Evidence