Framing your research question

Question frameworks are used to help you turn your research question into the searches you will need for databases and search engines


CIMO can be used to build questions on management and policy evaluation. 

  • Which individuals, groups, systems or relationships are you focusing on? 
  • Which event, action or activity are you investigating the effects of?
  • Which responses to the intervention explain how it leads to the outcome?
  • Which circumstances cause these responses?
  • In which circumstances are these responses avoided?
  • Which effects of the intervention you have chosen to focus on?
  • How are you defining and measuring these effects?


Other variables that can be added to this framework are:

Study design
  • Which study type(s) will you using?
  • What is the duration of the intervention?


Variant frameworks:

  • CIMOS = Context, Intervention, Mechanisms, Outcomes, Study design
  • CIMOT = Context, Intervention, Mechanisms, Outcomes, Time


Reference: Booth, A., Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Martyn-St James, M. (2021). Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review. 3rd edn. SAGE Publications.