Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Becker Medical Library logotype
Library Quicklinks and Information

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.

How long does it take to complete a scoping review?

The entire process--from creating a research question, through conducting the literature search, screening results, analyzing data, and writing a manuscript can take as long as 18 months. We can usually complete the literature search for the scoping review within 4-6 weeks. 

Does Becker Library charge any fees for the scoping review service?

Our scoping review service is available for free to all Washington University faculty, staff, and students, and to faculty/staff at Barnes Jewish Hospital. Please note, however, that you may need to budget money for interlibrary loan (for materials Becker Library doesn't own), or to purchase software. 

Am I expected to include my collaborating librarian as an author on a published scoping review?

The amount of work your collaborating librarian completes for the scoping review typically meets the ICJME criteria for authorship. We ask that you do not include your collaborating librarian's search methods or search strategies in a published manuscript unless they are included as an author. 

How many articles are typically retrieved in a scoping review search?

The number of articles retrieved depends on how narrowly/widely focused the research question is, the novelty of the topic, and other factors. It is not unusual to receive a few hundred results for a narrowly-focused question, or a few thousand results for a broader question. It is important to keep in mind that you will very likely receive far more results than a typical literature search.  Early in the planning process for your scoping review you should carefully consider the time commitment that will be necessary for screening a potentially large number of results.

How many databases are searched for a scoping review?

Depending on the topic, 2-3 databases are typically searched for a scoping review. Your collaborating librarian will discuss which databases will be searched and you can recommend databases you would like to include. 

Will my collaborating librarian including search results for clinical trials or other grey literature resources? 

Scoping reviews do not usually require searching unpublished literature or grey literature. Some topics may require searching for grey literature (topics involving government-produced documents/guidelines, topics with information sources found in blogs and similar media, etc.). Your collaborating librarian will discuss all evidence resources with you.

Will my collaborating librarian retrieve full text articles for my scoping review project?

Full text article retrieval is not part of our scoping review service. However, if you run into problems with accessing full text or have any questions we are happy to help. Your collaborating librarian can assist you with questions or concerns.