Boland et al. break this process into six steps:
SOURCE: Boland, A., Cherry, G., & Dickson, R. (Eds.). (2017). Doing a systematic review: A student's guide. SAGE Publications.
Formulating a strong research question for a systematic review is a process. While you may have an idea about the topic you want to explore, your specific research question is what will drive your review and requires some consideration.
You will want to conduct preliminary or exploratory searches of the literature as you refine your question. In these searches you will want to:
Try using a framework to develop your research question.
For example, a commonly used framework in health sciences is PICO: Patient/Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome.
Another common framework is PEO (population, exposure, outcomes).
For other frameworks, you can use:
SOURCE: Step 1-1.1: Frame the Question, from PIECES; Excel workbook designed to help conduct, document, and manage a systematic review. Created by Margaret J. Foster, MS, MPH, AHIP, Systematic Reviews Coordinator, Associate Professor, Medical Sciences Library, Texas A&M University. CC-BY-3.0 license
This guide was adapted from Systematic Reviews by University of Texas Libraries (https://guides.lib.utexas.edu/systematicreviews) which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.