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Systematic and Scoping Reviews

What is a Scoping Review?

A Scoping Review is:

"an ideal tool to determine the scope or coverage of a body of literature on a given topic and give clear indication of the volume of literature and studies available as well as an overview (broad or detailed) of its focus. Scoping reviews are useful for examining emerging evidence when it is still unclear what other, more specific questions can be posed and valuably addressed by a more precise systematic review."

A Scoping Review:

  • Answers a broad question
  • Highlights gaps in the literature
  • May follow a protocol but it doesn't have to be registered
  • Can be used as a tool to determine whether to conduct a systematic review
  • Doesn't usually include risk of bias assessment
  • Doesn't typically include critical appraisal
  • Doesn't need to synthesize the findings of individual studies
  • Make take as long as a systematic review or longer.

Further reading:

Sucharew, H., & Macaluso, M. (2019). Methods for Research Evidence Synthesis: The Scoping Review Approach. Journal of Hospital Medicine, 14(7), 416–418.


Scoping Review vs. Systematic Review

The following resources may help you decide if you should conduct a scoping or systematic review.

Munn, Z., Peters, M. D. J., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(1), 143.

Librarian Carrie Price. (2021, May 17). Systematic vs Scoping Review: What’s the Difference?