How to write a Knowledge Summary


What is a Knowledge Summary?

In the veterinary profession, as in human medicine, a great deal of time is spent making decisions in a complex and often uncertain environment. Family physicians may need answers for up to 333,000 questions per year.[1] For veterinary practitioners dealing with more than just one animal species, the need for answers are bound to be as numerous. The challenge to keep up with the latest research is immense.

The interface between practitioners and evidence-based resources can be strengthened by the use of Critically Appraised Topics (CATs). [2,3] These are short critical summaries of the best available information on a defined clinical question. They provide a concise conclusion which should be easily accessible by clinical staff.[4]

We have decided to call these CATs “Knowledge Summaries” (so as not to be confused with the cat species) in that they are summarised resources to address information needs.


What if there is insufficient evidence to answer my clinical question?

If no primary research literature is found following a search of the literature then that is an important finding. Particularly if it is an important and common question that can have a high impact on patient care. The value of finding a lack of evidence (little or no published literature) is often underestimated and overlooked - it is a key finding to drive further research and informs the current knowledge or lack of.

We are of the stance that a Knowledge Summary with no evidence or not enough evidence is still a valuable outcome that should be shared with the community.


How can I get started with writing a Knowledge Summary?

The first step to writing a Knowledge Summary is defining your question. Pick one of our clinical queries (or write your own) then contact us stating your question. 

The following resources have been created by RCVS Knowledge to help guide authors with writing a Knowledge Summary. For any queries or for more guidance and information please contact the editorial office

6 steps to writing a Knowledge Summary 

Read our bite-size guide 6 steps to writing a Knowledge Summary for an overview of the Knowledge Summary writing process. This guide covers the main steps and provides links to more in-depth resources.

Guidance for writing the clinical bottom line

As part of your Knowledge Summary you will be asked to write a clinical bottom line. The following guidance will help you to write this section: Guidance for writing the Clinical Bottom Line

Knowledge Summary handbook

The Knowledge Summary handbook provides detailed instruction on every aspect of writing a Knowledge Summary: Knowledge Summary handbook PDF.

EBVM learning tutorial

This tutorial introduces the concepts of Evidence-based Veterinary Medicine (EBVM), and aims to give you a foundation from which you can write a Knowledge Summary and start to apply EBVM to your own veterinary work: 

EBVM toolkit

The EBVM Toolkit is designed to help busy veterinary practitioners answer a clinical question with the best available evidence. We hope this Toolkit will be useful for daily evidence-based practice – and that practitioners will share the answers they’ve found with their colleagues, by writing a Knowledge Summary and submitting it to Veterinary Evidence.


View Guidelines for authors