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Scoping Reviews

A guide to conducting evidence syntheses using scoping review methodology.

What is a scoping review?

“Scoping reviews, a type of knowledge synthesis, follow a systematic approach to map evidence on a topic and identify main concepts, theories, sources, and knowledge gaps.”

Scoping Review vs Systematic Review


Scoping Review

Systematic Review


  • One or more authors
  • Team-based (multiple authors)

Research question

  • Ask a broader question
  • Identify gaps
  • Understand the size/reach of a topic
  • Focused question
  • May be limited in comprehensiveness

Eligibility Criteria

  • Flexible
  • Fixed/Developed a priori

Search Strategy

  • Iterative, revisions acceptable
  • Fixed/Developed a priori


  • "Larger" result sets
  • "Fewer" results


  • Optional
  • Required

Protocol and write up

  • PRISMA 2020


  • Overview and thematic
  • Formal synthesis of findings


When to consider a scoping review?

Below are a few indicators that a scoping review might be right for you:

  • Broad research question or topic
  • Multiple research questions
  • Multi-part research question
  • Goal is to identify knowledge gaps
  • Aim is to conduct a landscape or environmental scan of a topic
  • Clarifying or examining key concepts, topics, or areas