Answered By: Denise R. Gehring, MSLIS, MA
Last Updated: Feb 01, 2024     Views: 3

For more information on writing a scoping review, go to

Definition: Scoping reviews are often used to categorize or group existing literature in a given field in terms of its nature, features, and volume. 

When to use: They are typically used for broad questions and can help identify and map the available evidence. A meta-analysis is not usually part of a scoping review. Label body of literature with relevance to time, location (e.g. country or context), source (e.g. peer-reviewed or grey literature), and origin (e.g. healthcare discipline or academic field) It also is used to clarify working definitions and conceptual boundaries of a topic or field or to identify gaps in existing literature/research

You may choose to conduct 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 (results from the scoping review can help create a more focused question suitable for a systematic review)
  • To identify and analyze knowledge gaps (Munn et al, 2018)

Researchers should become familiar with PRISMA-ScR, when conceptualizing the scoping review project.

Limitations: More citations to screen and takes as long or longer than a systematic review.  Larger teams may be required because of the larger volumes of literature.  Different screening criteria and process than a systematic review