Remember that choosing your topic isn't something you do before you start your research. Choosing a topic is research. So how do you choose a topic worth researching? Try working through the following steps:
Background research is an essential component of the research process. It helps to contextualize your work and gives you a basic understanding of the issues surrounding a particular topic. This is important because it will help you identify aspects of a topic that can turn into some interesting ideas, which will then lead to a solid research question.
UNC Libraries provides access to great tools for background research. You can search hundreds of encyclopedias through the library reference databases. Here are a few of our favorite databases for background research:
Wikipedia can be an excellent source for background information. Be sure not to cite Wikipedia! Rather, use the links in the References section at the bottom of the Wikipedia page to investigate the sources referenced in the article.
As part of Evidence Based Practice (EBP), well-built clinical questions help you gather evidence relevant to your patient or client's problem. Once you have developed a clinical question, you can easily determine the keywords and other search elements you need to focus on when searching databases for information on the patient's condition.
Use the PICO/T format to compose clinical questions:
P = Population/Patient/Problem - How would you describe a group of people with a similar problem?
I = Intervention - How do you plan to treat, medicate, diagnose, and/or observe the patient's care?
C = Comparison - Is there an alternative intervention you are considering? This element is optional.
O =Outcome - What do you want to accomplish, measure, improve, or affect?
T = Time - Is time a factor in addressing the condition, treatment, or diagnosis. This element is optional.
Here’s our example PICO/T Questions: