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A Guide to Conducting Reviews: Scoping Review

This LibGuide outlines some of the common types of reviews including literature, systematic, and scoping reviews, and lists some ways by which University Librarians can assist in conducting such reviews.


Definition: A scoping review maps the literature on a research question. Conducting a scoping review uses many of the same methods as a systematic review, such as a comprehensive, replicable search and a systematic screening process. A scoping review systematically and transparently collects and categorizes existing evidence on a broad topic or set of research questions.

Aim: Seeks to identify the nature and extent of research evidence. It also aims to identify research gaps and opportunities for evidence synthesis.

Main steps:

  • Define a clear review topic, objective and sub-questions
  • Develop a protocol
  • Apply PCC (Population or Participants/Concept/Context) framework
  • Conduct systematic searches including grey literature
  • Screen results for studies that meet your eligibility criteria
  • Extract and chart relevant data from the included studies
  • Write up the evidence to answer your question

Strengths: Focused and rigorous, a scoping review is able to inform policymakers if a full systematic review is needed. Like systematic reviews, scoping reviews attempt to be systematic, transparent and replicable.

Drawbacks/LimitationsMay critically evaluate existing evidence, but does not attempt to synthesize the results in the way a systematic review would. Hence, a scoping review does not include a process of quality assessment. May take longer than a systematic review.

Source: Cochrane Training. (2017, September 1). Doing scoping reviews [Video]. YouTube.