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Environmental Resource Management

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What is PICO?

For any paper or thesis, a hypothesis or problem statement needs to be made. The best ones are those that provide the following information:

P = Population, Problem, Process

The population doesn't need to be human. Most often this is a problem or process that needs to be changed in some way.

I = Intervention, Inquiry, Investigation, Improvement

Possible solution

C = Comparison

Current practice, opposing viewpoints, or conditions under which P & I occur

O = Outcomes

Measuring what worked best

Asking the Searchable Question

The hypothesis or problem statement is not searched completely as stated. Most searches will focus on the problem (P) and the Improvement (I). When a comparison of two ways of doing things (C) is needed, that part becomes the 3rd concept in your search strategy. The results or outcome is not part of the search strategy.

To get up to speed on your topic you need the "who, what, where, when, why or how" 

Background | 5 Ws - Foreground | PICO


Who or What          equals              Population, Problem, or Process

How or Why            equals              Intervention, Investigation, or Improvement

Where or When       equals            Comparison or conditions of what you are studying



Rene Tanner
Tempe Campus
(480) 965-7190
Arizona State University Libraries

ASU Libraries

Arizona State University
P.O. Box 871006
Tempe, AZ 85287
Phone: 480-965-3605

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