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Literature review methods

Tags: English, General

Research question

Structuring the question

In order to identify which concepts you will need to search, take time to create a well-defined research question. Make sure you can clearly state what question(s) you are trying to answer (the objectives of the review). Several mnemonic frameworks have been developed to help structure research questions. The idea is to create clear boundaries which can inform the search strategy. These frameworks are often translated into search blocks appropriate for each database/search tool to be used. Some of the more common frameworks can be found below.

Effects of interventions: PICO

PICO = patient, population, or problem - intervention - comparison - outcome

Adapted from: Richardson, W. S., Wilson, M. C., Nishikawa, J., & Hayward, R. S. (1995). The well-built clinical question: a key to evidence-based decisions. Acp j club123(3), A12-A13.


Management and organization studies: CIMO

CIMO = context, interventions, mechanisms, outcomes

Adapted from: Denyer, D., & Tranfield, D. (2009). Producing a systematic review. In D. Buchanan, & A. Bryman (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organizational research methods (pp. 671–689). Los Angeles, CA and London: SAGE Ltd.

Policy and management issues: ECLIPSE

ECLIPSE = expectation - client group - location - impact - professionals involved - service

Expectation encourages reflection on what the information is needed for, such as improvement, innovation, or information. Impact looks at what you would like to achieve, such as improve team communication.

Adapted from: Wildridge, V., & Bell, L. (2002). How CLIP became ECLIPSE: a mnemonic to assist in searching for health policy/management information. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 19(2), 113–115.

Qualitative synthesis: SPIDER

SPIDER = sample - phenomenon of interest - design - evaluation - research type

Adapted from: Cooke, A., Smith, D., & Booth, A. (2012). Beyond PICO: The SPIDER Tool for Qualitative Evidence Synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 22(10), 1435–1443.