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Scoping Review Guide

What is a Scoping Review?

Scoping reviews can be used to determine the scope or coverage of a body of literature on a given topic. They are typically used for broad questions and can help identify and map the available evidence. A meta-analysis is not usually part of a scoping review.

You may choose to conduct a Scoping Review:

  • To identify the types of available evidence in a given field
  • To clarify key concepts/definitions in the literature
  • To examine how research is conducted on a certain topic or field
  • To identify key characteristics or factors related to a concept
  • As a precursor to a systematic review (results from the scoping review can help create a more focused question suitable for a systematic review)
  • To identify and analyze knowledge gaps

Source: Munn Z, Peters MDJ, Stern C, Tufanaru C, McArthur A, Aromataris E. Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2018 Nov 19;18(1):143. doi: 10.1186/s12874-018-0611-x. PMID: 30453902; PMCID: PMC6245623.


Differences between Scoping and Systematic Reviews

  Scoping Reviews Systematic Reviews
Broad topic, not answering a specific question/investigating a specific intervention Yes No
Protocol Registration Site Open Science Framework (OSF); Cannot register in PROSPERO  PROSPERO
Typical question outline format PCC PICO
Explicit, transparent search strategy Yes Yes
Standardized data extraction forms Yes Yes
Mandatory critical appraisal of included studies (risk of bias assessment) No Yes
Synthesis of findings from individual studies and generation of summary findings No Yes
Grey Literature Search Not typically done, but may be included depending on the topic Yes
Example Question What research is available about non-pharmaceutical treatments to treat ADHD? Is cognitive behavior therapy an effective treatment for ADHD in young adults?

Source: JBI Manual: Table 11.1 (Modified)