University of Maryland University College Library

NURS 410: Library Research: Picking a PICOT question: Test it first

Picking a PICOT question: Test it first

Before you decide on a PICOT question, you should test it--do a quick search in a library database to see if there are enough published articles on your topic. If a lot of articles come up, then you probably have a good PICOT question to use for your assignment. If only two or three or no articles come up, then you will need to adjust your PICOT question or choose a completely different question.

Example:

You want to write about meditation as an intervention for cancer patients. 

Go to the library nursing database CINAHL Complete. Enter a search using basic keywords:

meditation AND cancer AND patients

The results for that search show over 200 articles. That's a good sign that enough has been written about the topic to make it a good PICOT question--you will have enough articles to use for your assignment.

Next, see if you can spot several articles in your results list that have been written in the last 5 years (you'll see a year listed for each article--look in the information below the article title to find the year).

Also, look through some of the articles you found to make sure they are primary (evidence-based) research articles. Here's a guide for identifying primary (evidence-based) research articles.

If you do a basic search in a library database and almost no useful-looking results come up, that's usually a sign that you have to change your PICOT question. 

 

 

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