Systematic reviews: Scoping Reviews

What is a scoping review?

Munn et al. (2022) define scoping reviews as:

Scoping reviews are a type of evidence synthesis that aims to systematically identify and map the breadth of evidence available on a particular topic, field, concept, or issue, often irrespective of source (ie, primary research, reviews, non-empirical evidence) within or across particular contexts. Scoping reviews can clarify key concepts/definitions in the literature and identify key characteristics or factors related to a concept, including those related to methodological research (p. 950).

Munn, Z., Pollock, D., Khalil, H., Alexander, L., McLnerney, P., Godfrey, C. M., Peters, M. and Tricco, A. C. (2022) 'What are scoping reviews? providing a formal definition of scoping reviews as a type of evidence synthesis', JBI Evidence Synthesis, 20(4), pp. 950-952. Available at:

Similar to systematic reviews, scoping reviews aim to locate a comprehensive body of literature on a specific topic, using that literature to identify key topics, theories and evidence sources as well as gaps and limitation in the research. Unlike systematic review the area of enquiry can be broader and more exploratory.   

Some of the aims of systematic review include: 

  • To understand the extent of the available research on the subject
  • To make summarise and make observations on the types of research already conducted, topics covered and approaches taken
  • To map the existing evidence
  • To establish the need for further systematic review on the topic
  • To identify areas of future research based on knowledge gaps identified

Guidance for scoping reviews

To create a robust scoping review following an established method is essential. Some guidance which detail approaches to scoping review are:

The PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (Tricco et al., 2018) PRISMA ( - A 20 (or 22 with options) item check-list structured around the stages of scoping review.

The JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis has an online chapter on scoping review, as well as a template. 

The following articles provide guidance and best practice advice on scoping reviews:

  • Peters, M. D. J., Marnie, C., Tricco, A. C., Pollock, D., Munn, Z., Alexander, L., McInerney, P., Godfrey, C. M. and Khalil, H. (2020) 'Updated methodological guidance for the conduct of scoping reviews', JBI Evidence Synthesis, 18(10), pp. 2119-2126. Available at:
  • Peters, M. D. J., Godfrey, C., McInerney, P., Khalil, H., Larsen, P., Marnie, C., Pollock, D., Tricco, A. C. and Munn, Z. (2022) 'Best practice guidance and reporting items for the development of scoping review protocols', JBI Evidence Synthesis, 20(4), pp. 953-968. Avaialble at: