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PICO: Picking a Topic

Picking a topic

When selecting a PICO topic, consider these three things:

1. Does research about the topic meet the parameters of the assignment?

Your assignment requires you to find research that is evidence-based and current (within the last five years). If your topic is too new, there may not be enough primary research yet published. If your topic is too old, the primary research may have been published well before your five year window.

TIP: Before fully committing to a topic, do some pre-searching in the Library databases to test for prevalence of primary research and currency of that research. Don't search for hours. If you aren't finding anything, seek a librarian's assistance or move on to another topic.

2. Can you apply your findings to nursing practice?

In most cases you will need to use your critical thinking to synthesize the findings in your required articles and infer how the outcomes apply to nursing practice.

Ask yourself things like:

  • How do my findings from each article relate to each other?  Is there a general set of conclusions I can draw?
  • What are the implications of these conclusions for nursing practice?
  • If what I have found represents best practice, what does it mean for nursing?

TIP: Don't limit yourself to nursing journals. There will be primary research articles published in other medical, health, and wellness journals that include the field of nursing or whose findings can be inferred for nursing practice. Again, it requires critical thinking on your part to read the articles thoroughly, synthesize the results, and draw conclusions for nursing practice.

3. Is the topic interesting to you?

Students usually do better if they have a genuine interest in their topic. Take a moment to consider what you care about. Is there something you've experienced or read that you would like to know more about? Is there something within nursing practice that you think needs to be improved? Which population do you hope to work with in the future? Even if you are not sure about all of these questions right now, consider if there is some area of nursing practice that you'd like to explore through the PICO assignment.

 

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