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Scoping Reviews

This guide lists resources related to conducting a Scoping Review.

Identify relevant studies

The search strategy for a scoping review should aim to be as comprehensive as possible while keeping in mind any time and resource restraints. Authors should seek to identify both published and unpublished (grey literature) sources of evidence as well as reviews. Any limitations in terms of the breadth and comprehensiveness of the search strategy should be detailed and justified in the final manuscript (Peters et al. 2020, Section 11.2.5).

JBI recommends a three step search strategy for scoping reviews:

1) Initial limited search of at least two appropriate databases relevant to the topic such as Ovid Medline(R) ALL* and CINAHL

2) Analyze the keywords contained in the title and abstract of retrieved papers and any subject headings used to describe the articles. A second systematic search using these identified keywords and subject headings should then be undertaken across all included databases in the review. The searches should be run on the same day to avoid bias. **

3) Lastly, the reference list of identified articles should be screened to uncover any additional studies. This stage may examine the reference lists of all identified studies or examine solely the reference lists of the studies that have been selected for inclusion in the review. In either case, it should be clearly stated which group of sources will be examined.

The following subsections provide more information about how to construct your search strategy for a scoping review.


*If you search in Ovid Medline(R) ALL then you do not need to search in PubMed. 

** Tip: It's easiest to create an account for each database and to save the search strategies ahead of time. Make sure to keep a digital copy of the search strategies used in addition to the saved searches. You don't want to lose all of your hard work! These search strategies should later be included as an Appendix in the final paper.

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