Before you start developing your research question, think about your research objectives:
Watch the following video (6:26) to get you started:
The benefits of doing a background search:
|Note: You can do background searches at any stage of the development of your question.
Pick an area of interest and explore its different aspects to identify a topic.
|In this step, a background search will help you identify articles and books which can inspire more ideas and reveal aspects of your research interest that you may not have considered.
The resources linked below are a good place to start:
Now you have explored different aspects of your topic, you may construct more focused questions (you can create a few questions and pick one later).
|A background search will show you how others formulate their questions, hence expand your research direction.
Once you have a few questions to choose from, pick one and refine it even further.
|A background search may help you identify additional keywords in this step.
The PICO framework (or other variations) can be useful for developing an answerable clinical question.
The example question used in this guide is a PICO question:
How does speech therapy compare to cognitive behavioural therapy in improving speech fluency in adolescents?
|Population OR Patient OR Problem
What are the characteristics of the patient or population? OR
What is the condition or disease you are interested in?
|teenager with a stutter
|Intervention OR Exposure
What do you want to do with the patient (e.g. treat, diagnose, observe etc.)?
|Comparison OR Comparator
What is the alternative to the treatment (e.g.placebo, different drug, surgery)?
|cognitive behavioural therapy
What is the relevant outcome (e.g. morbidity, complications)?
|Note: PICO is one option, there are other frameworks you can use too!
Use the interactive PICO worksheet to get started with your question, or you can download the worksheet document.
Here are some different frameworks you may want to use:
|Population (patient), Intervention, Comparison (control) and Outcome. Add a Timeframe if required. Used particularly for treatment type questions.
|A variation of PICO where E= Exposure and T=Timeframe if required.
|Developed in the context of practice guideline adaptation. Includes P= Professionals/Patients, O= Outcome and H= Healthcare Setting.
|S= Setting (where), P= Perspective (for whom), I= Intervention (what), C= Comparison (compared with what), E= Evaluation (Booth 2006).
|S= Sample, P= Phenomenon of interest, D= Design, E= Evaluation, R= Research type. Useful for qualitative or mixed method studies (Cooke, Smith and Booth 2012).
|E= Expectations, C= Client group, L= Location, I= Impact, P= Profession, SE= Service (Wildridge & Bell 2002).
|P= Political, E= Economic, S= Social, T= Technological, E= Environmental, L= Legal (CIPD 2010).
There are a number of PICO variations which can be used for different types of questions, such as qualitative, and background and foreground questions. Visit the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Guide to learn more: