Skip to main content

Neuroscience: Research Question

Formulating a Research Question to Guide your Search

Your literature search will be more successful if you first spend some time developing a research question, and if you revisit and revise that question as you find out new information. Terms in your question will guide your database searching.

Your question should be:

  1. Interesting
  2. Relevant
  3. Novel
  4. Answerable within the scope of your study

PICO:  Use the acronym PICO to help consider variables that you want to include in your question.

P - problem, population, patient (some specific population or patient variables are age or life stage, gender, race, income, education, geographic location, etc. AND in the case of non-humans, consider species and breed)

I - Intervention

C - Comparison, Correlation

O - Outcome

Type of Question:   In a clinical setting, questions relate to treatment, diagnosis, etiology (cause), prognosis, and quality of life. You will not address all of these in a single question.

Synonyms:  Spend some time brainstorming about other terms used for the same concept, either in a modern setting or historically. Most likely you will discover more of these as you start searching

Refine your question based on your preliminary literature review. By stating your problem as a question, rather than a list of terms, you will be more likely to assure that it is answerable.

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us