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Scoping Review

A guide introducing the process of conducting a scoping review

The Scoping Review

The Scoping Review


What is a Scoping Review?

"A scoping a form of knowledge synthesis that addresses an exploratory research question aimed at mapping key concepts, types of evidence, and gaps in research related to a defined area or field by systematically searching, selecting, and synthesizing existing knowledge" (Colquhoun et al, 2014).

Researchers are publishing scoping reviews in the health sciences, medicine, social sciences, and education at an increasing rate. A PubMed search for scoping reviews found 10 scoping reviews were published in 2010 while 1600 were published in 2019. Duquesne researchers are performing scoping reviews as well, as seen in this EBSCO search.

Other names for scoping reviews include: Scoping Study, Systematic Scoping Review, Scoping Report, Scope of the Evidence, Rapid Scoping Review, Structured Literature Review, Scoping Project, Scoping Meta Review

Things to Consider

Things to Consider Before Starting a Scoping Review

  • The timeframe for a scoping review is not short, scoping reviews typically take 12 or more months
  • A team of researchers is needed for a scoping review, and the team may need to be larger than one used in a systematic review
    • Librarians are often consulted for the development of a comprehensive search strategy--request assistance from Gumberg librarians using the Systematic Review Librarian request form
    • Other members of the research teams hold include experts in scoping review methodology, clinical content area experts, experts in qualitative/quantitative methods and statistics, and other experts as needed
  • The methodology of a scoping review is evolving and therefore may be unclear or inconsistent 
  • Use the PRISMA-ScR checklist to make sure you document and keep track of all needed information