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Scoping Reviews

This guide lists resources related to conducting a Scoping Review.

Identify the research question

Debatably, one of the most important steps when conducting a scoping review is the development of the research question as, without a clear question, the review will lack a sense of direction and coherence.

The research question should be directly related to the overall objectives and reasons for conducting the review. It should be explicitly stated, transparent, and located in the introduction of the final manuscript (Pollock et al. 2021).

One benefit to a scoping review is that the research question is often broader than those for systematic reviews and often goes beyond this related to the effectiveness of treatments or interventions. Some examples of research questions for scoping reviews include the following:

1. What are the issues encountered by individuals, families, caregivers, and healthcare providers related to the medication management of individuals living in the community and receiving homecare services? 

2. What are the characteristics (e.g., guiding principles, main components, and human resources) of Indigenous healing strategies in Canada? 

3. What is known from the existing literature about the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of services to support carers of people with mental health problems? 

Many formats (i.e. PICO) have been developed to guide the inclusion of information in a research question, but not all of these are suitable for scoping reviews. The Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) recommends that authors use the PCC model instead (Peters et al., 2020). This framework is explained in more detail below.

The PCC Model

When developing a question for a scoping review, the recommended format is the ‘PCC’ mnemonic:

P - Population

C - Concept

C - Context


Topic: Models of nurse-lead care in chronic disease in high-income countries

Research Question: What nurse-led models of care are used to manage chronic disease in high-income countries?

P - Population - N/A

C - Concept - Chronic disease; nurse-led models of care

C - Context - High-income countries


The PCC example above is reused from the 'How to Search' page on the University of Southern Australia's Scoping Reviews Guide:

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