Scoping Reviews: ScR Overview

Scoping review overview Scoping review process Scoping review guidelines Scoping review standards

The Scoping Review Process

The process

Step 1 - Define a clear review topic, objective and sub-questions

Step 2 - Develop a protocol (the "recipe" for your review), including:

  • Search strategy and databases
  • Eligibility criteria (Inclusion/Exclusion)
  • Screening process
  • Critical appraisal process (optional -not typical)
  • Charting process

Step 3 - Apply PCC framework

Step 4 - Conduct systematic searches of black and grey literature.

Step 5 - Screen results for studies that meet your eligibility criteria.

Step 6 - Extract & chart relevant data from the included studies.

Step 7 - Write up the evidence to answer your question.


Note: Scoping reviews tend to be more iterative than traditional systematic reviews, which may result in deviations from the protocol. While this is acceptable, any changes and the rationale for these must still be clearly articulated in the methodology section of the final paper. Learn more about the differences between review types here.

Learn More

View the video below, from St. Michael's Hospital Toronto:

Not sure if this is the review type for you?

What is a Scoping Review?

<Image, Micah Peters, Copyright University of South Australia>"In general, scoping reviews are commonly used for 'reconnaissance' -to clarify working definitions and conceptual boundaries of a topic or field. Scoping reviews are therefore particularly useful when a body of literature has not yet been comprehensively reviewed, or exhibits a complex or heterogeneous nature not amenable to a more precise systematic review of the evidence.

While scoping reviews may be conducted to determine the value and probable scope of a full systematic review, they may also be undertaken... in and of themselves to summarize and disseminate research findings, to identify research gaps, and to make recommendations for the future research."

Guidelines and Standards

<Logo: Joanna Briggs Institute>Using a standard or guidelines will help you conduct your scoping review correctly

Scoping review methodology has evolved over time. (
See the evolution here) A number of key papers that were fundamental to this evolution are available on the "Key Historical Papers" tab of this box. These are not recommended to be used as current methodology, but can be useful to provide background and context.

Watch the video below, narrated by Dr Micah Peters, to learn how the Scoping Review Methodology has evolved:


The Joanna Briggs Institute's approach is widely considered the Standard. This aims to consolidate and built upon earlier works describing Scoping review methodologies. The Cochrane Collaboration follows a similar approach.

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