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Nursing Resources: A Self-Paced Tutorial and Refresher: 1.2 Types of Questions

An online instructional tool to orient users to the NYU virtual environment: books, databases, articles, more.

1.2 Developing the Question

During a literature search, you must make some decisions about the information you are looking for.


1. What kind of resources are you looking for?

  • Information in popular periodicals such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal?

    • Often articles in popular periodicals can lead you to references to the scholarly literature

  • Information that has been aggregated from many sources (such as a textbook)?

    • Even information in a recently published book may be at least 3-5 years old.

  • Information in scholarly journal articles?

    • This is the place to find the most recently published research evidence.

    • A PICO(T) question is usually answered by accessing the scholarly journal literature

  • Ready reference information: a fact, a definition, a short description, drug side effect, etc.?


2. What aspects of your topic are you interested in?

  • Are you interested in the historical, ethical, psychosocial, or policy aspects of the topic? Or are you looking for the clinical/biomedical aspects of the topic?


3. How much information are you looking for?

  • What is the scope of the project?

  • Do you want several recent articles on a topic?

  • Are you writing a paper and looking for both background information from textbooks plus some recent journal information?

  • Are you writing a dissertation?

  • What level of evidence do you require? Are you looking for evaluated, "peer-reviewed," scholarly sources? Do you want information appropriate for clinical application? Information in a journal article may not necessarily be ready for clinical application; the critical appraisal must come first.

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