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CRITICAL REVIEWS

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CRITICAL REVIEWS

Critical reviews are ideal for working through new conceptualizations of "wicked problems."Those conducting critical reviews use their expertise and judgement to nimbly draw together disparate ideas, empirical evidence, or theory to shift current research and clinical practices. For critical reviews, flexibility, creativity, and judgement is paramount and more important than systematicity.

Not sure this is the right review type to answer your research question(s)?

Click Types of Reviews to help you decide.

Brainstorm Team Meeting

STRENGTHS + WEAKNESSES

Critical Reviews

Strengths

  • Methodologically flexible, which enables scholars to advance understanding of complex issues by appraising theory and evidence from an array of sources, rather than prioritizing systematic reporting of everything written within a single discipline

  • Enables investigators to reenvision ways of interpreting a problem

  • Researchers act as research instruments by using their perspectives to appraise and interpret the literature uncovered, rather than primarily acting to describe or summarize it

  • Useful for problems that may require a new way of thinking or that require reviewers to use their unique expertise and judgement to take a stance on the information uncovered and where the field ought to go as a result

Weaknesses

  • Limited methodological guidance is available

  • Reporting is highly variable

  • The necessarily loose boundaries around critical reviews that this approach creates can cause frustration because others exploring the same issues in the same way may not draw upon the same literature or replicate a specific search strategy

  • Critical reviews are not the right review type for those seeking (as authors or readers) a definitive or final solution to a specific problem

  • Most critical review tasks cannot be turned over to a research assistant with instructions to follow a particular process

CRITICAL REVIEWS

Supporting Documents to Download

CRITICAL REVIEWS:
5-STEPS Downloadable How-To Guide

Coming Soon - Jun 2023

CRITICAL REVIEWS:
Theoretical Foundations
(Journal of Graduate Medical Education Publication)

CRITICAL REVIEWS:
How-To Guide
(Journal of Graduate Medical Education Publication)

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

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KEVIN EVA, PhD

Kevin Eva is Associate Director and Senior Scientist in the Centre for Health Education Scholarship, and Professor and Director of Educational Research and Scholarship in the Department of Medicine, at the University of British Columbia. He received a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from McMaster University and is Editor-in-Chief for the journal Medical Education. 

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RENATA KAHLKE, PhD

Renate Kahlke is Assistant Professor, Division of Education & Innovation, Department of Medicine and Scientist, McMaster Education Research, Innovation and Theory Program at McMaster University. She holds a PhD in Education and is funded by major granting bodies, including the Government of Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). Her qualitative methodological publications are highly cited and have received recognition for their contribution to Social Science research. 

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MARK LEE, BSc

Mark Lee is a research project support for the McMaster Education Research, Innovation & Theory (MERIT) program, and a sessional instructor with the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) program Child Health Specialization at McMaster University. His curiosities has led him to explore a variety of research areas, some of which include: innovation in teaching and learning, clinical reasoning, education science, and child & youth development.

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