Think about your research question. It is the foundation of everything that follows, from your choice of research methods through to the way you analyse your data

Find a research idea that interests you. Once you start looking, you’ll notice research ideas all round your workplace.

Think about the outcome you’d like from your project.  It can help shape your question.

There are three types of questions:

  1. Predictions ( a hypothesis or premise that may or not be supported by your findings)
  2. Interventions (make comparisons to measure success)
  3. Explorations (focuses on why something is the way it is)

Reviewing the literature (Step 2) can help you define your question more precisely.  You will  also need to familiarise yourself with research already undertaken in your area. 

Use mind maps to help you organise your ideas. Here are some free mind mapping applications:

Align your research question to your organisation’s objectives.  This will increase the likelihood of organisational support when you want to put your research findings into practice (Step 9).

It may be helpful to discuss your ideas with colleagues and people in your wider networks: 

CILIP accredited qualifications – provides programme lead contact details for all accredited courses in university Information and Library Studies & Schools

CILIP’s Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) – promotes the dissemination of sound research methodology and results in its journal Library and Information Research LIRG facilitates networking with other KLS researchers and assists in the development of emerging researchers

JiscMail – Discussion lists help connect you with other people working in education and research sectors.  Discuss, debate, collaborate and communicate your research ideas. Useful lists include:

  • [email protected] – for researchers, practitioners and tutors from all KLS sectors to discuss and share experiences of all aspects of research and evaluation
  • [email protected] – for the UK health and medical library community

LIS Research – The Library and Information Science Research Coalition – archive of library and knowledge service research information and resources to 2012.  

National Directory of NHS Research Offices – the directory you’ll need to identify your local R&D lead

Service users –  public and user involvement is commonplace in research.  It is often expected as part of a funded research. INVOLVE advocates involving users at all stages of your research process.   Involving users can help you identify research priorities, define research questions and provide new perspectives.

The Complete Universities Guide. (2020) – for contacts to your local university health faculty research staff

Twitter chats:

HILJ Club. (2020). #HILJClub – quarterly journal tweet club based on an article from the latest issue of the Health Information and Libraries Journal

#uklibchat. (2020). #uklibchat  – a monthly tweet chat on general library and knowledge issues suggested by participants

#ukmedlibs. (2020). #ukmedlibs – a monthly tweet chat for anyone interested in health library and knowledge issues

Your line manager

Your local library network

Other useful sources

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). (2020). Research Design Service – if you have a research idea but are not sure how to turn it into a funding application, use this service. 

The Research Design Service (RDS) provides free and confidential support to health and social care researchers across England on all aspects of developing and writing a grant application. 

This includes research design, research methods, identifying funding sources and involving patients and the public.

NHS Research and Development Forum. (2020) – a UK–wide professional network supporting quality health research with and for NHS providers and commissioners of care.

Useful if you’re involved in managing, supporting or leading research & development (R&D) in health and social care settings .

Suggested reading

Booth, A. (2006). Clear and present questions: formulating questions for evidence based practice . Library Hi Tech, 24(3). doi: 10.1108/07378830610692127 – models the process of question formulation and encourages you to identify your own practice-based questions.

Page last reviewed: 15 June 2021