Scoping Review

Scoping reviews are used to create an overview of the available research on a topic, to identify types of evidence / sources, key ideas and gaps in the literature

Definition of a scoping review

To undertake a scoping review is to understand the “lay of the land” on a topic.

Although there is no definitive definition of what a scoping review is, the general consensus amongst authors is that Mays et al (2001) best describes a scoping review.

According to Mays et al (2001), scoping reviews or scoping studies aim “to map rapidly the key concepts underpinning a research area and the main sources and types of evidence available, and can be undertaken as stand-alone projects in their own right, especially where an area is complex or has not been reviewed comprehensively before” (p. 194).

Arksey & O’Malley (2005) worked to expand on the definition set out by Mays et al and established a methodological framework in which researchers can apply to identify literature related to their topic and to date is the most utilised framework in undertaking a scoping review.


Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological frameworkInternational journal of social research methodology, 8(1), 19-32.

Mays, N., Roberts, E., & Popay, J. (2001). Synthesising research evidence. In Studying the organisation and delivery of health services: Research methods, 220.

Spencer, L., & Ritchie, J. (2002). Qualitative data analysis for applied policy research. In Analyzing qualitative data (pp. 187-208): Routledge.

Resources on scoping reviews

Doing a scoping review – Cochrane Training (YouTube)

Scoping Reviews – HLWIKI International

Translational Science: Scoping Reviews – Himmelfarb Health Sciences Library

Methodology for JBI Scoping Reviews – The Joanna Briggs Institute