Tuesday, March 15, 2005

It all starts with a question...

Over the past week, I’ve consulted with three people who were having difficulty finding information on their topics. After talking with each of them about what they tried, what terms were used and what they thought the problem was, it was clear that each would benefit from identifying what they really wanted and then framing that need in the form of a question.

When you begin a search for information, whether it’s a complex clinical situation or you’re trying to find a place to stay for an upcoming vacation, the process will be much easier if you begin by formulating a question.

It helps you think clearly and concisely about exactly what it is that you are looking for. A question helps clarify and direct your inquiry and because questions need answers, hopefully they propel you into action.

The question usually gives you clues on where to find the answer – a textbook, journal article, general database or a specialty database such as MEDLINE, PsycINFO or CINAHL.

From the question, you can also identify and prioritize the separate concepts that need to be searched – and indicate the relationships between the concepts.

If you’re having trouble with a search, make sure that you have a very specific question that you’re trying to answer. Sometimes talking it out with a colleague or your friendly librarian helps organize your thoughts and the question becomes obvious.


At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such a good idea! Good Luck!

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree Jan. Searches can become very tedious if they lack focus. It is almost like "surfing" the web without a clear idea of what you are look for. Great advice!!


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