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Systematic Searching Support

What is a Scoping Review?

Aim: to determine the state of research related to a topic or field of study, guided by one or more questions. Purpose is variable and may include the identification of knowledge gaps, an examination of how research is conducted or has changed in a field, or exploration of concepts./definitions. Because of the often broad "scope" the search process is typically extensive. 

Synonyms: scoping study, mapping review, systematic map

Notes about Methodology

  • Broad question or set of questions 
  • Comprehensive or exhaustive search, depending on research question(s)
  • Often does not include specific intervention or outcome
  • Does not typically include quality appraisal or risk of bias assessment 
  • May include research in progress
  • Analysis known as “charting the results” is narrative (and may include tabular or other visuals)
  • Grey literature is often included 

Methodology Guidance

Reporting Standards

PRISMA is an international group of methodology experts dedicated to improving reporting quality of reviews. More information is available at the PRISMA for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) page. Journals that accept scoping reviews may require submission of the PRISMA-ScR checklist.

Articles for Guidance

Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19-32. View full text 

Levac, D., Colquhoun, H., & O'Brien, K. K. (2010). Scoping studies: advancing the methodology. Implementation science, 5(1), 69. View full text

Munn, Z., Peters, M. D. J., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(1), N.PAG-N.PAG. View full text 

O'Brien, K. K., Colquhoun, H., Levac, D., Baxter, L., Tricco, A. C., Straus, S., Wickerson, L., Nayar, A., Moher, D., & O'Malley, L. (2016). Advancing scoping study methodology: a web-based survey and consultation of perceptions on terminology, definition and methodological steps. BMC Health Services Research, 16, 305. View full text 


Below is a reference that may serve as an example of a quality project.  

Groves, P. S., Bunch, J. L., & Sabin, J. A. (2021). Nurse bias and nursing care disparities related to patient characteristics: A scoping review of the quantitative and qualitative evidence. Journal of Clinical Nursing (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), 30(23/24), 3385-3397. View full text