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* Toolbox Information literacy skills: Search, Find and Evaluate Sources: Asking questions

Searching,finding, evaluating and managing sources made easy

Let's go and ask some questions, here are some knowledge clips to check out!

Before you go looking for information, it is important to research how the question relates to the field. Ask questions and empathize with the situation!

Ask questions
Ask questions about the assignment (the problem statement or context) to get a better understanding of the assignment and/or context as much as possible.

Research question
After asking questions, you choose a topic about which you want to find information. You then formulate a general question. With a clear topic and a general question, your search for suitable sources of information becomes more specific and your sources of information become more relevant. A general question shapes your research or searches for information.

Once you have found several sources of information, formulate a main question or research question. For more information on formulating a main question or research question, contact your research teachers or coaches!

On this page under "Practical tools", you can find worksheets and exercises about asking questions,

about the topic (the problem statement or context)

about the needs of all involved

to adopt other perspectives


JCU Library. (2016, July 18). Unpack your assignment topic: Top library tips series [Video]. YouTube.

Libncsu. (2014, May 1). Picking your topic IS research! [Video]. YouTube.

Cebmed (January 29, 2013). Finding the evidence 1 - using PICO to formulate a search question. [Video] YouTube.

Practical tools for helping you formulating questions regarding context, problems or research.

These 4 basic steps will help you on your way to formulating questions regarding a problem and/or context.

Step 1

Start with a mindmap about a topic or problem you want to explore, you can do this alone or in a small group. Don't limit yourself to exploring or associating. The way in which you explore your list of topics determines the way you go about searching for information.

Step 2

Read about the topics/problems that you have put into your mindmap. What are the definitions, why are they interesting, and what do you want to know? Perhaps you can add more ideas/problems to your mindmap? Keep in mind that the mindmap does not have to be finished in one session. After reading up on some of the topics listed in the mindmap, go back and generate more concepts or ways to explore or research a topic.

Step 3

Evaluate your topics which ones are relevant and can be researched? Which of the topics can be researched within the timeframe of your assignment?

Step 4

Formulate your questions linked to the most relevant and most feasible concepts. Underline the key concepts (topics) in your questions.

Finally in case you are not happy with your initial questions, do not hesitate to rephrase your questions. 

PICO is a tool that can be very useful in assessing the research question and the search terms that are part of the question. 

You can download the file below.