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Scoping Reviews

This guide lists resources related to conducting a Scoping Review.

Run your search in Ovid Medline

Usually, you will develop your initial search strategy in Ovid Medline(R) ALL. Make sure to use a combination of both keywords and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH terms) in your search. 


1. Look for any relevant MeSH terms. If you find more than one, give each subject heading its own line.

Subject headings in Ovid Medline are designated by a / symbol.

2. Next, enter your keywords. Remember the goal here is to be as exhaustive as possible - you'll want to use as many relevant synonyms or related terms as you can find.

Keyword searching in Ovid Medline is designated by an .mp. - the database is looking for the words that you typed into the search bar in Many Places. These places include the title, abstract, author supplied keywords, and other locations in the article record.

3. Join all lines for one of your search concepts together using OR. ​

In the example below, we are looking for articles that use any of our subject headings or keywords for Concept #1: Chronic Disease

Screenshot of MEDLINE search history showing a subject heading search and a keyword search. To combine the two, select the blue boxes to the left of the lines and select OR.


4. Repeat this step for each one of your search concepts. In our example, this would be Concept #2: Nurse-led models of care and Concept #3: High-income countries.

5. Finally, combine all of your search concepts together using AND. This will retrieve results that address all of your search concepts.

A screenshot of a MEDLINE search history showing multiple 'set' lines each with a subject  heading line and keyword line. To create an overall set combine all individual set lines by selecting the blue box to the left of the lines and selecting AND.

Ovid Medline Tutorials

If you're using Ovid Medline for this first time, watch the following tutorials from the Gerstein Library, University of Toronto to learn how to use this platform.


Language limits should not be applied to search strategies that are intended to be as comprehensive as possible. Reviewers should attempt to identify all relevant studies, regardless of language, to reduce the likelihood of publication bias. If it is not possible to have non-English-language studies translated, the review should report the number of non-English-language studies that were eligible but not included in the review. 

Date restrictions may be appropriate for updating previously published scoping reviews. 

Limiting to specific study types and to human subjects is usually done using a combination of keyword and subject headings (not by using database filters). Please contact a librarian for more information on how to use these limiters in your search.

Search Strategy Resources


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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