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Table 1 Elements of critical appraisal and their coding (Study designs categorisation adapted from [71, 72])

From: What evidence exists on the impact of governance type on the conservation effectiveness of forest protected areas? Knowledge base and evidence gaps

1. Study design Case study: in-depth non-experimental qualitative study of a single location/protected area/local community within, usually studied over time in a real life context, using documents, interviews, observations. Frequently reports on unusual, extreme or rare cases
Case series or Time series: quantitative non-experimental study in multiple time periods, outcomes measured during the intervention. If measurements exist before and after intervention—Before-After (BA) design
Cross-sectional study (Control-impact (CI)): quantitative non-experimental study conducted in one point of time (e.g. survey), provides a snapshot. Not clearly established if intervention preceded the measured outcomes. Has non-randomly selected control groups
Controlled before-and-after study (Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI)): quasi-experiment with controls, measure of outcomes before and after the intervention
Controlled after only study: quasi-experiment with controls, measure of outcomes after the intervention ONLY
Sequential mixed method: qual > quant OR quan > qual
Concurrent mixed method design: qual and quant at the same time
2. Comparator appropriateness Is comparator appropriate for governance assessment? Is it relevant for the stated aims and conclusions of the study? Other methodological details? Describe
3. Methodological detail LOW = no sufficient details on data collection and/or data analysis procedures, method selection not justified, MEDIUM = no important methodological details missing, selection of methods justified and fits the research question; HIGH = very detailed explanation of the data collection and analysis procedures, info on ethical approval included, study limitation, confounding and biases commented upon
4. Measurements of ecological outcomes Subjective/perception based or self-reported (=0); Objective (=1). E.g.: changes in the forest cover assessed through analysis of satellite images versus perception of the changes in forest cover reported by the local people)