© 2016 Elsevier Inc. Electronic health records (EHR) are a vital data resource for research uses, including cohort identification, phenotyping, pharmacovigilance, and public health surveillance. To realize the promise of EHR data for accelerating clinical research, it is imperative to enable efficient and autonomous EHR data interrogation by end users such as biomedical researchers. This paper surveys state-of-art approaches and key methodological considerations to this purpose. We adapted a previously published conceptual framework for interactive information retrieval, which defines three entities: user, channel, and source, by elaborating on channels for query formulation in the context of facilitating end users to interrogate EHR data. We show the current progress in biomedical informatics mainly lies in support for query execution and information modeling, primarily due to emphases on infrastructure development for data integration and data access via self-service query tools, but has neglected user support needed during iteratively query formulation processes, which can be costly and error-prone. In contrast, the information science literature has offered elaborate theories and methods for user modeling and query formulation support. The two bodies of literature are complementary, implying opportunities for cross-disciplinary idea exchange. On this basis, we outline the directions for future informatics research to improve our understanding of user needs and requirements for facilitating autonomous interrogation of EHR data by biomedical researchers. We suggest that cross-disciplinary translational research between biomedical informatics and information science can benefit our research in facilitating efficient data access in life sciences.