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Scoping Review

A guide introducing the process of conducting a scoping review


Framework for Scoping Review

Notes on Table:

  • Table below summarizes Table 2 from Levac et al 2010, which adapts Arksey and O'Malley, 2005  framework for scoping reviews
  • Parenthesis with item number indicate where relevant items from the PRISMA-ScR checklist should be considered
  • Peters et al  2015 gives some helpful examples and illustrations of synthesis for data charting, so is added to the table below as #3  in Stage 5
Levac et al Framework Stages Description
1: Identify the Research Question

1. Clearly articulate the research question that will guide the scope of inquiry. Consider the concept, target population, and health outcomes of interest to clarify the focus of the scoping study and establish an effective search strategy. (PRISMA-ScR item #4).

2. Consider the purpose of the scoping study with the research question. Envision the intended outcome (e.g., framework, list of recommendations) to help determine the purpose of the study. (PRISMA-ScR item #4).

3. Consider rationale for conducting the scoping study to help clarify the purpose (PRISMA-ScR item #3).

2: Identify relevant studies

1. Identify the relevant studies and developing a decision plan for where to search, which terms to use, which sources are to be searched, time span, and language. (PRISMA-ScR item #6). For help with search strategies, consult with a librarian and use the planning form below to begin developing your search.

2. Sources include electronic databases, reference lists, hand searching of key journals, and organizations and conferences. (PRISMA-ScR item #7). Use citation management software like EndNote to keep track of articles. 

3. Assemble a suitable team with content and methodological expertise that will ensure successful completion of the study. Use Duquesne supported software like Box to assist with collaboration.

4. Document full electronic search strategy including limits in each database used. (PRISMA-ScR item #8).

5. Be broad and comprehensive in the search but remember practicalities, since time, budget and personnel resources are potential limiting factors and decisions need to be made upfront about how these will impact the search.

6. When limiting scope is unavoidable, justify decisions and acknowledge the potential limitations to the study.

3: Select studies

1. This stage should be considered an iterative process involving searching the literature, refining the search strategy, and reviewing articles for study inclusion. (PRISMA-ScR item #9).

2. At the beginning of the process, the team should meet to discuss decisions surrounding study inclusion and exclusion. At least two reviewers should independently review abstracts for inclusion. For help tracking articles reviewed, consider using software like Covidence.

3. After the review of abstracts, two researchers should independently review full articles for inclusion.

4. When disagreements on study inclusion occur, a third reviewer can determine final inclusion.

4: Chart the data

1. The research team should collectively develop the data- charting form and determine which variables to extract in order to answer the research question.

2. Charting should be considered an iterative process in which researchers continually extract data and update the data- charting form. (PRISMA-ScR item #10).

3. Two authors should independently extract data. 

5: Collate, summarize, and report the results

Researchers should break this stage into three distinct steps:

 1. Analysis (including descriptive numerical summary analysis and qualitative thematic analysis). (PRISMA-ScR item #13).

2. Reporting the results and producing the outcome that refers to the overall purpose or research question. (PRISMA-ScR item #14-17).

3. Synthesize: Summarize and/or present the charting results as they relate to the review questions and objectives, see Peters et al 2015 for examples. (PRISMA-ScR item #18). Check out Harvard's guide on Synthesis for methods to combine evidence and Westlake (2012) for tips and visual examples of synthesis

4. Consider the meaning of the findings as they relate to the overall study purpose; discuss implications for future research, practice and policy. (PRISMA-ScR item #19-21).

6: Consultation

1. Consultation should be an essential component of scoping study methodology.

2. Clearly establish a purpose for the consultation.

3. Clearly articulate the type of stakeholders to consult and how data will be collected, analyzed, reported and integrated within the overall study outcome.

Gumberg Library Scoping Review Search Planning Form