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PhD in Translational Health Sciences: Scoping Reviews

Introduction to library and information resources for students studying for a PhD in the translational sciences.

Scoping Reviews Defined

Per Grant and Booth, a scoping review is defined as a "Preliminary assessment of potential size and scope of available research literature. Aims to identify the nature and extent of research evidence (usually including ongoing research)."   Data is typically presented in a tabular format organized by key components such as study design and describes both the quality and quantity of literature available on the chosen topic. See: Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x


PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR): Checklist and Explanation

Covidence -- tool to support scoping reviews

Comparison of Scoping and Systematic Reviews

(From:  Brien, S., Lorenzetti, D., Lewis, S., Kennedy, J., & Ghali, W. (n.d). Overview of a formal scoping review on health system report cards. Implementation Science, 5)

A comparison of the characteristics of scoping and systematic reviews.

Systematic Review

Scoping Review

Focused research question with narrow parameters

Research question(s) often broad

Inclusion/exclusion usually defined at outset

Inclusion/exclusion can be developed post hoc

Quality filters often applied

Quality not an initial priority

Detailed data extraction

May or may not involve data extraction

Quantitative synthesis often performed

Synthesis more qualitative, and typically not quantitative

Formally assesses the quality of studies and generates a conclusion relating to the focused research question

Used to identify parameters and gaps in a body of literature


  • Peters, Micah D.J.1,2,3; Marnie, Casey1; Tricco, Andrea C.4,5,6; Pollock, Danielle7; Munn, Zachary7; Alexander, Lyndsay8,9; McInerney, Patricia10,11; Godfrey, Christina M.6,12; Khalil, Hanan13,14 Updated methodological guidance for the conduct of scoping reviews, JBI Evidence Implementation: March 2021 - Volume 19 - Issue 1 - p 3-10 doi: 10.1097/XEB.0000000000000277