Forming a research question takes time and may take several iterations. There are many frameworks that you can use to transpose your initial research interest or knowledge gap into a specific research question. For a comprehensive, but brief overview of many frameworks, see the below attached rapid review that was part of a British Medical Journal article about question frameworks, and the University of Maryland Library Guide on research question frameworks.
It is recommended that your team explore question frameworks to find the ones that work for you. The following examples demonstrate some of the most prevalent frameworks for evidence synthesis in the social sciences.
PICO is likely the most well-used and widely known framework. PICO Stands for:
Example: Do midsize midwestern cities (population) that build bicycle lanes (intervention) have more bicycle commuters (outcome) when compared to midsize midwestern cities without bike lanes (comparison)?
The standard PICO framework is very helpful in quantitative and health science scenarios, but can also be adjusted slightly to accommodate reviews of qualitative information, as well:
Example: Do trauma-based care practices (phenomenon of interest) in the United States child welfare system (context) improve self-worth (outcome) among teens in foster care (population)?
Other variations of PICO Include PICOT (T = Time) and PICOS (S=Study Design). For more information on the PICO variations, see this guide from CQ University of Australia.
Example: What is the effect of Quit Kits to support smoking cessation (intervention) on number of successful attempts to give up smoking (evaluation) compared to no support ("cold turkey") (comparison) for teenagers (perspective) in South Carolina (setting)?
Example: How have New Jersey (location) policymakers (professionals) supported small restaurants' (client) ability to meet takeout demand (expectation) after new plastic bag ban legislation (intervention + service) went into effect?
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