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Evidence Synthesis in the Social Sciences

What is a Scoping Review?

"True to their name, scoping reviews are an ideal tool to determine the scope or coverage of a body of literature on a given topic and give clear indication of the volume of literature and studies available as well as an overview (broad or detailed) of its focus." (Munn et al., 2018

For a given topic, a scoping reviews might: 

  • seek to identify types of evidence generated
  • try to clarify key concepts or characteristics
  • attempt to examine how research is conducted
  • seek to identify gaps in the knowledge base and literature
  • to determine whether a systematic review is necessary or to preclude a systematic review 

(Munn et al., 2018, Grant and Booth, 2009

Systematic Review Vs. Scoping Review: What's the Difference?

  Scoping Review Systematic Review
Description "Preliminary assessment of potential size and scope of available research literature. Aims to identify nature and extent of research evidence (usually including ongoing research)" (Grant and Booth, 2009
"Seeks to systematically search for, appraise and synthesis research evidence, often adhering to guidelines on the conduct of a review" (Grant and Booth, 2009)

Some helpful tools for determining the difference between systematic and scoping reviews:

Essential Resources for Scoping Reviews


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