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Systematic Reviews in the Health Sciences

This guide will introduce you to the Systematic Review process.

What is a Scoping Review?

A scoping review is a type of research synthesis that aims to "map the literature on a particular topic or research area and provide an opportunity to identify key concepts; gaps in the research; and types and sources of evidence to inform practice, policymaking, and research" *

* Daudt HM, van Mossel C, Scott SJ. Enhancing the scoping study methodology: a large, inter-professional team's experience with Arksey and O'Malley's framework. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2013 Mar 23;13:48. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-13-48. PMID: 23522333; PMCID: PMC3614526. (p. 8)

Understanding Scoping Reviews

A Scoping Review

  • Is not easier than a systematic review.
  • Is not faster than a systematic review and may actually take longer.
  • More citations to screen
  • Different screening criteria/process than a systematic review
  • Often leads to a broader, less defined search.
  • Requires multiple structured searches instead of one.
  • Increased emphasis for hand searching the literature.
  • May require larger teams because of larger volume of literature.
  • Inconsistency in the conduct of scoping reviews.

Why a Scoping Review?

Indicators for conducting a scoping review:

  • To identify the types of available evidence in a given field

  • To clarify key concepts/ definitions in the literature

  • To examine how research is conducted on a certain topic or field

  • To identify key characteristics or factors related to a concept

  • As a precursor to a systematic review

  • To identify and analyse knowledge gaps

Munn, Z., Peters, M.D.J., Stern, C. et al. Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approachBMC Med Res Methodol 18, 143 (2018).

Articles on Scoping Reviews


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