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.
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STRENGTHS + WEAKNESSES
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
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
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.
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.
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.