Table 1

Ethics critical appraisal worksheet

How to read an ethics paper: a resource for healthcare practitioners
This worksheet is to be used in conjunction with the paper ‘How to read an ethics paper’ (reference)
Can you find this information in the paper?Is the way this was approached a problem?Does this threaten the strength or credibility of the paper?
1. What is the point at issue?Does the author conflate different points at issue?
Does the author fail to adequately address the points raised?
Is the purpose of the paper so unclear that it is not useful?
Is a conclusion clearly linked to a defined problem or point?
2. Has the author defined all of the terms they use?Are the key terms well-defined?
Are the definitions correct/reasonable?
If there are no clear definitions, what ambiguity does this give rise to?
If the definitions are wrong or unreasonable, what impact does this have in this case?
3. Dissect the argument: (a) What are the premises of the author’s argument? (b) What are the author’s conclusions?Are the premises true? What evidence/reasons does the author give to support their premises?
Does the conclusion follow on logically from the premises? If not, where are the errors of reasoning?
Are there any hidden assumptions?
If the premises are untrue or unreasonable, how does this impact the overall argument?
If the argument is invalid, what implications does this have for the author’s overall position?
4. Does the author address all relevant counterarguments?Do the authors address relevant counterarguments?
Do they do so convincingly? (based on standards from all the previous steps?)
Can you think of any other significant counterarguments?
If not, does this affect the overall credibility of the author’s position?
What key arguments or ideas has the author missed and what implications does this have for their position?
5. Is the argument or exploration of the issue relevant to your practice?Is the problem framed in a way that is useful to practitioners?
Is the paper directed towards practical outcomes?
Does the paper help to clarify or organise your thinking?
Overall, is the paper useful?
Does the author provide valuable insights into a difficult topic?
Are the conclusions relevant to the population you are interested in?