Formulating a Question

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Formulating the question

Search Strategy worksheet image

  1. Write your topic out as a sentence or question
  2. Identify the main ideas (concepts)
  3. Think of synonyms for each concept

Researchers in health sciences often use a framwork to help develop their question.

  • PICO(S) - used mainly for quantitative questions
    • Population or Patient
    • Intervention or Issue
    • Comparison
    • Outcome
    • Study Design
  • SPICE - used for qualitative questions
    • Setting
    • Population
    • Intervention
    • Comparison
    • Evaluation

Click on the links below to access search strategy worksheets for


Other mneumonics to help frame a question include:

  • SPIDER - qualitative evidence synthesis
    • Sample
    • Phenomenon of Interest
    • Design
    • Evaluation
    • Research Type
  • ECLIPSE - policy/management questions
    • Expectations
    • Client group
    • Location
    • Impact
    • Professionals involved
    • Service
    • Evaluation
  • PS - qualitative questions
    • Population
    • Situation
Content last updated: December 4, 2019