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Systematic and Systematic Style Reviews for STEM disciplines

2. Formulate your question

To undertake an advanced literature review, you need a research question that you can find the answer to in literature. We recommend framing your research problem using a technique such as PICO. This will break your problem down into discrete parts.

Use the below PICO examples to help you frame your problem.



Different frameworks and variants exist to help conceptualise research questions. For some STEMM research questions it may help to consider the P as Problem, or the I as Issue of interest, and Co as context!


You will need to set clear boundaries for what will be included and excluded from your review. This is known as establishing your inclusion and exclusion criteria. Your criteria establishes which papers will answer your research question. PICO can help you establish your criteria.


Protocols are a plan for conducting specific types of reviews, and should be submitted to a protocol registry. We recommend checking for any journal or publisher guidelines for developing a protocol.

Protocol guidelines:

Protocol registries: