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PT 625: Introduction to Critical Inquiry

Use this course guide to get started with your research for PT625!

Shaping your topic with PICO

When getting started with research, you might first have some background questions. 

We can use a Jamboard to begin to map out how we might explore a topic that we're starting to research: PT 625 Topic Exploration Fall 2022

One of the keys to successful research is having a specific question to answer to provide focus for your search. Evidence-Based Medicine involves using a framework to frame clinical inquiries in a way that sets up a successful and effective search. The PICO approach can help you think through the different elements of your question in advance to provide the framework for a thorough effective clinical foreground question should consider all four components.  

Please come up with a (draft!!) PICO question based on your jamboard for your topic, and put it here:  PT 625 Fall 2022 PICO Question


Patient, Population, or Problem

What’s the issue- is it pain, injury, disease? Who is the population- age, gender, demographics?



What can you DO about the issue? Is there medication, treatment, diagnostic procedure?


Comparison or Intervention (if appropriate)

What are the alternatives to the interventions discussed above?


Outcome you would like to measure or achieve

What about this issue could be measured, improved, or affected?

For example, here is a PICO question:

 In college athletes with injuries…would acupuncture-supported physical therapy…compared to PT alone…reduce rehabilitation time? 

  • What are some of the ways that you could further refine this question?

Key Database: PubMed

PubMed is your go-to source for searching the medical literature. Use the limits link to narrow your search by language, subject population, or topic subset. When looking at articles, be sure to check for the blue 'Check for full text' button to check for full-text access through Collins Library. 

Key Database: CINAHL

CINAHL, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, covers a wide range of topics including nursing, biomedicine, alternative/complementary medicine, consumer health and allied health disciplines. Click here or use the box below to search. 


Additional Databases

Finding Full Text of Articles

There are three methods for obtaining the actual articles you wish to read:

Method 1: In some databases, you will be able to link directly to the full-text article. Look around, as different databases have different interfaces. Look for a link or buttons that says "Check for Full Text" or Download PDF or similar. If given the choice between a PDF or HTML version of the article, always choose the PDF format. This will give you an exact image, including page numbers, of the article as it appears in the paper journal.

Method 2: If a direct link to full text is not available, then check Primo Search to see if the library subscribes to the journal. Search for the title of the journal that the article was published in.

You may find that there is online access available for this journal. Check the dates that are available...most of the time the link will say "Fulltext access available from 19xx." Check to see whether the article that you're looking for was published during the date range that is available. If so, then click the 'View fulltext' link and either browse through past issues, or look for a "search within this publication" link until you find the article that you need.  You may find that Primo says the journal is available at Collins Memorial Library Print Journals, which means we have the journal physically in the library.  If the article you are looking for is only available in print in the library rather than online, in which case you  you will need to check either the current periodicals area on the first floor, or go downstairs to the basement to find the bound volumes of periodicals.  If the periodical is available only in microform, you may submit a request for electronic delivery of the article via your Interlibrary Loan account.

Method 3: If your searching indicates that the article is not available in any format, then request the article through Tipasa, your Interlibrary Loan (ILL)  account. ( Most databases include links to use ILL within each record.) It usually takes about a week or less to receive an electronic copy of the article.

And at any time if you have questions, send Pavel an email!