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Focus Your Topic

Once you have a chosen a topic, the next step is narrowing down your topic until you formulate a well-defined research question.

Here's an example of how to narrow down your topic using the pyramid method:

Focus Your Topic (Template)


PICO Method

PICO Method Template

Use the PICO model (Population, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome) to ensure your research question is specific enough.

For example, if your research question is "Can music therapy help autistic children improve their social skills?", examine it for the following criteria:

1) Is there a specific population you are studying?

    The answer would be yes; you are studying autistic children.

2) Are you looking at a specific intervention that may alter your population in some way?

     Yes, your intervention is music therapy.

3) Is there a control group you are comparing to the intervention group?

    Most likely, your research question will not mention a control group but you can still answer yes because you arecomparing autistic children who do not receive music therapy to those who do.

4) Is there a specific, measurable outcome that may occur as a result of the intervention?

    Yes, you are studying whether or not communication skills will improve as a result of the intervention.


If you answered "yes" to all four of these criteria, you have designed a good research question and are ready to develop your search strategy.


Next step

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