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Scoping Reviews

What is a Scoping Review

A Scoping Review is one of many evidence synthesis methodologies. Similar to a Systematic Review, a Scoping Review requires a systematic search strategy and clear, structured reporting. Unlike a Systematic Review, a Scoping Review is exploratory in nature and answers a broad research question designed to assess the extent of the existing research.

According to Arksey & O'Malley, who wrote the seminal work on Scoping Reviews, this particular methodology serve 4 primary purposes:

  1. To map the extend of research conducted on a topic
  2. To determine if a full systematic review is warranted
  3. To summarize the existing research
  4. To identify gaps in the research

Learn more about the different types of Reviews


The key to a publishable review is good planning and organization from the very beginning. It is helpful to meet with a librarian before you begin your review to learn more about the resources and strategies available help you get and stay organized through the process.

Limitations of Scoping Reviews

It's also important to note the limitations inherent in scoping review methodology in your published papers.

  1. Usually does not include risk of bias or other assessment of included studies
  2. Are typically broad at the expense of depth
  3. Often points to research that needs to be conducted rather than contributing essential research

Types of Reviews

Unsure if a Scoping Review methodology is best for your purposes? Take a look at this decision tree from Cornell University to help you weigh your options.

Video Tutorials

Learn more about the different kinds of reviews and how to conduct them with this playlist from UT Austin.

Further Reading