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Scoping Reviews


Any time you search in multiple databases, you will get duplicate results. Keeping track of your numbers before and after deduplication is something you will want to note in your PRISMA diagram. There are many different tools that can help you with this step, but they all have their pros and cons.

  • Zotero (recommended) - Zotero is a citation manager that is free and open source. It's deduplication tool is not perfect, but it allows you to bee very hands-on and will not remove anything it considers a duplicate unless you tell it to.
  • Endnote - Endnote is a Web of Science product and has both a free basic and paid version. Deduplication is about on par with Zotero, but the free version is much more limited.
  • Mendeley - Not recommended, but this is another free citation manager that is a product of Elsevier. Mendeley auto-deduplicates, which is not recommended for systematic reviews.
  • Rayyan - Rayyan is a free and open source screening tool. It has deduplication abilities, but they are not as user friendly as the others. Because Rayyan is browser-based, it tends to be a little more buggy when it comes to deduplication. (Recommended as secondary de-duplication)
  • Excel - this is the most hands-on option and many researchers like it because they control the full process. (Recommended as secondary, "by-hand" deduplication)

Study Selection

Once results have been deduplicated, you will begin the screening process. This is where you begin to apply your inclusion/exclusion criteria. While systematic review methodology requires all inclusion/exclusion criteria to be defined a priori, scoping review methodology allows for ad hoc inclusion/exclusion criteria based on the researchers' increased familiarity with the research at this point. Just be sure to document!

There are many free and paid tools available for this stage as well.

  • Start with a title and abstract screening to exclude those studies that are obviously outside of your parameters

  • The final stage will be full text screening. This is best performed by three screeners, screening independently from one another.

*Recommended tool - Rayyan - free, browser-based screening software