Skip to Main Content

Gerstein Science Information Centre

Health Policy, Management & Evaluation (HPME)

What are scoping reviews?

A scoping study can be defined as:"..a form of knowledge synthesis that addresses an exploratory research question aimed at mapping key concepts, types of evidence, and gaps in research related to a defined area or field by systematically searching, selecting and synthesizing existing knowledge."  (from:  Colquhoun, H. L., Levac, D., O'Brien, K. K., Straus, S., Tricco, A. C., Perrier, L., . . . Moher, D. (2014). Scoping reviews: Time for clarity in definition, methods, and reporting.  Journal of Clinical Epidemiology,(12), 1291-1294. ).

Common reasons for conducting a scoping study:

  1. Examine the extent, range and nature of research activity
  2. Determine the value of undertaking a full systematic review (e.g. do any studies exist?  Have systematic reviews already been conducted?)
  3. Summarize and disseminate research findings
  4. Identify gaps in existing body of literature

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

Scoping studies typically involve six steps:

  1. Identify the research question
  2. Identify relevant studies
  3. Select studies to include
  4. Extract & charting  data from included studies
  5. Collate, summarize & report results
  6. Consultation with stakeholders

Guidance for Reporting a Scoping Review

Guidance on reporting your systematic review is found in Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, O'Brien KK, Colquhoun H, Levac D, et al. (2018). PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR): Checklist and Explanation. Ann Intern Med.