Between the 6th and the 8th March 2019 a truckload of librarians and knowledge specialists from across the North headed to Lancaster for an intense three-day train-the-trainer course on the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP). In this post some of the participants share their initial reflections on the training:


“This was probably the best training course that I have ever been on! It was a very intensive three days but the hard work was well worth it! I was delighted when I saw the CASP course being advertised a few months ago and I signed up straight away. A few years ago one of my colleagues attended the course in Oxford and came back enthused and full of good ideas – it had been on my training wish-list since then. I wanted to attend the course to improve my overall critical appraisal skills and confidence in teaching. I had previously attended shorter courses and practised critical appraisal, but I was always left with a sense of only partially understanding the process and feeling like an “imposter” when teaching it! I really wanted to firm up my knowledge and feel that I had properly got to grips with it all. The course certainly did not disappoint, and it achieved everything that I was hoping it would. The first part of the course focused on improving our own critical appraisal techniques including a detailed explanation of the dreaded statistics! The majority of the second half of the course was devoted to us practising our own teaching skills in regards to critical appraisal. I found it really useful to practise my own teaching but also to pick up some useful techniques and ideas from others. Many thanks to all of the folks in my group and also to the trainers overall – it was a great three days ??”

Becky Williams, Library and Information Resources Manager, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust


“Why I went – I don’t often teach critical appraisal but know there is an appetite for sessions in the Trust. I was keen to refresh my knowledge and gain some insights into how best to teach CA so I feel confident to offer training sessions to Trust staff.

What I got out of it – Although I know some of my knowledge needs ‘refreshing’, I believe I know enough to offer a basic session on critical appraisal. The CASP resources make teaching in a systematic but engaging way much easier and I’ve picked up some handy hints and tips from the facilitators and colleagues who also attended.
What I will do next – I attend regular research meetings for AHPs and have been given a slot on the April agenda to talk about CA and what training might be provided. This might mean group teaching sessions or support for journal clubs – or both!

The 3 day course was one of the most intensive I have experienced and was certainly stressful in parts but I cannot say a big enough thank you to the other attendees, especially those who were feeling more stressed than I was. The smaller group I was part of on days two and three were so supportive and positive, making the more difficult exercises much more successful than they might have been. The Friday afternoon session on dealing with difficult people was the most entertaining and enjoyable part of the whole course due to those taking on the role play – you know who you were ??”

Paula Elliott, Library Services Manager, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust


“Why I went: I’m out of practice with critical appraisal and wanted to refresh my skills and get some useful hints and tips about a) how to successfully use the checklist and resources available b) how to feel more confident in my critical appraisal abilities c) how we might adapt critical appraisal for our organisation.

What I got out of it: the course was an intense (that word again) refresher on using the CASP checklists, dealing with dreaded statistics and ways that we might teach these skills to our colleagues. Producing presentations under pressure was quite stressful but it certainly helped me better understand the concepts we’d covered each day. I also found the support of my fellow attendees incredibly valuable.

What will I do next? I know that the onus is on me to keep these skills up-to-date otherwise I’ll find myself in the same position I was in the day before the course (vaguely remembering p values are important but with no recollection of why). I’m already gathering relevant examples of systematic reviews so I can go through them using the checklist, hopefully I can do this virtually with some other colleagues, to keep the concepts fresh in my mind.”

Katie Nicholas, Knowledge Officer, Health Education England