Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Link to Libraries homepage
Link to Libraries homepage
Rutgers University Libraries

Systematic Reviews in the Health Sciences: Scoping Reviews

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

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers web sites to: or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback Form.