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Can you describe your information need using a simple sentence or question?
Without a clear idea of the project, you may not be able to determine which are the best sources to search, what terminology should be used in those sources, and if the results are appropriate and sufficient. You could be wasting time by duplicating searches, or missing appropriate information.
You can use the "PICO" technique below to formulate your research question and to help with database search strategies.
The PICO formula was developed in the medical field and is now used in most healthcare areas as part of "Evidenced Based Practice" (also called EBP). EBP requires that treatment and solutions be based on information obtained from scientifically sound, clinical trials. Healthcare professionals must be effective at performing extensive literature reviews in order to ensure that all important information pertinent to the case at hand has been found. By defining each part of the research question, the PICO forumula helps the evidenced based practioner break the information problem down to its essential parts. From these essential parts will come the initial keywords and search statements that will guide the practioner in their literature review.
Although designed for healthcare professionals, PICO is just as applicable for other professionals and subject areas, including engineering. The four components of PICO for engineers are described as follows:
Where to look for bioengineering information depends on what type of information you are trying to find. Listed below are the different types of publications in which information usually appears. Read the description for each publication type to decide if you need to search for these materials. Suggested resources are given for each publication type.
Although presented here as a step by step process, the overall sequence of a literature search is not linear. It is more of a circular path in which you find some material, read it, then using the information you found, refine your search terms and go back and search again. That circle may need to be repeated more than once for each database and don't forget that the process must be used in every resource that you try.
The process will take time and you'll find that you can't do it all at once. You don't want to waste time repeating work you've already done, so as you go thru the process, keep track of what databases you've searched and what search strategies you've used in each database.
Three different searching strategies are outlined below: Subject, Author and Citation. Although there will be overlap in the results you get, each method will find unique items that the other two searches couldn't.