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Scoping reviews

What is a scoping review

'an overview of the existing evidence, regardless of quality, because a scoping review aims to provide a map of what evidence has been produced as opposed to seeking only the best available evidence...formal assessment of the methodological quality of included studies is generally not performed'
Joanna Briggs Manual. Chapter 11: Scoping reviews

'Scoping reviews can be conducted to meet various objectives. They may examine the extent (that is, size), range (variety), and nature (characteristics) of the evidence on a topic or question; determine the value of undertaking a systematic review; summarize findings from a body of knowledge that is heterogeneous in methods or discipline; or identify gaps in the literature to aid the planning and commissioning of future research'
Source: Tricco, A. C., et al. (2018). "PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR): Checklist and Explanation." Ann Intern Med 169(7): 467-473. 10.7326/m18-0850. See also the CIHR definition.

A scoping review focuses on 'what is known about...' compared to a systematic review which is on 'what is the effectiveness of...'

Five steps in a scoping review

  1. Identify the research question
  2. Identify relevant studies
  3. Select the studies
  4. Charting the data
  5. Collating, summarizing and reporting the results

Source: Arksey H, O'Malley L. Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 2005 Feb 1;8(1):19-32. https://doi-org/10.1080/1364557032000119616


Source: Brien, S.E., Lorenzetti, D.L., Lewis, S. et al. Overview of a formal scoping review on health system report cards. Implementation Sci 5, 2 (2010). https://doi-orz/10.1186/1748-5908-5-2.Table 1 A comparison of the characteristics of scoping and systematic reviews.Curtin University Library

Registered scoping reviews

Don't reinvent the wheel. Before you start check that no one else has already published a scoping review on your topic (search Scopus and look for "scoping review" in the title) or has registered a review they are working on.

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