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Scoping Reviews

A guide to conducting evidence syntheses using scoping review methodology.

Time Consideration

Teams collaborating with Galter librarians take on average 14 months to complete a scoping review after submitting the protocol. 

Systematic & Scoping Review Services at Galter

Galter Library provides scoping review support to Feinberg School of Medicine affiliates and recommends that you consult with a librarian at the start of your project.  

We offer two support models for reviews* with different levels of effort and expectation.

Consult model: A librarian will meet with you in a one-hour consultation to discuss your project, review any search terms you may have or instruct on search strategy development, advise on database selection, and provide an overview of the review process. Review teams conduct their own searches and continue the process with minimal input from the librarian.

Collaboration model: With this model, librarians collaborate with you to:

  • Formulate your research question.
  • Investigate whether there is a published systematic or scoping review on your topic, or one is currently under development.
  • Plan the search and write the search methods for your review protocol.
  • Identify information sources to search.
  • Develop sensitive search strategies for each source.
  • Perform the search on the pre-specified databases/sources.
  • Advise on the choice of screening platforms.
  • Assist with setting up a pilot screen to train your review team and clarify criteria.
  • Deliver de-duplicated search results in a mutually agreed upon format (e.g. EndNote, Covidence, Rayyan).
  • Assist with obtaining full-text articles.
  • Document the search process for reporting purposes.
  • Write the search methods for the manuscript.
  • Review the manuscript prior to submission.

Librarians collaborating on systematic and scoping reviews commonly satisfy the criteria for authorship set forth by ICMJE. Co-authorship is expected when a librarian serves as collaborator rather than a consultant. If your project is in support of a grant proposal, plan to discuss the appropriate allocation of effort and include the librarian as a co-investigator.

Galter Library does not offer assistance with meta-analysis or meta-analytic methods. Contact the Biostatistics Collaboration Center for inquiries regarding meta-analysis.

*Galter offers support for systematic, scoping, meta-analysis, and other types of reviews. Your librarian can help you decide which review methodology is best suited to your research question(s).

Tasks and Timelines

The following chart provides estimated timeframes for tasks supported by librarians assisting teams under the full-collaboration/co-author model. The timeframe for each task may vary significantly from one review to the next and may occur concurrently. 

Library-assisted Tasks Estimated Time
Search for existing systematic or scoping reviews 3-5 days
Search strategy development process 2-4 weeks
Write search methods for the protocol 2-5 days
Translate and perform searches on prespecified databases 2-4 weeks
Remove duplicates and deliver search results 3-5 days
Assist with setting up the pilot screening 1-3 days

Assist with obtaining full-text articles 

Note: teams are responsible for submitting InterLibrary Loan (ILL) requests

7-10 days per 50 citations
Document search process for reporting purposes 1-3 days
Write the search methods for the manuscript 1-3 days
Review manuscript prior to submission 1-3 days

There are times when a review team’s process or workflow do not align with the library's and librarians'. In these instances, it may be necessary to explore alternative support options including the Consult Model.

Request Scoping Review Support from Galter Library

Ready to make a request for scoping review support from Galter Library? 

Complete and submit a request now.

At this time, Galter Library is unable to support requests from Northwestern affiliates who are not part of Feinberg School of Medicine. Students and faculty from other schools should contact their supporting library for assistance.