Arksey and O’Malley (2005) identify four common reasons why a scoping study might be undertaken in their seminal article outlining a methodological framework. More broadly, the authors separate these four reasons into two different purposes for conducting the review:
The scoping [review] as one part of an ongoing process of reviewing the research landscape, the ultimate aim of which is to produce a full systematic review.
1. To examine the extent, range and nature of research
2. To determine the value of undertaking a systematic review
Alternatively, the scoping [review] might be conceived as a method in its own right—leading to publication and dissemination of research findings in a particular field of enquiry.
3.To summarize and disseminate research findings
4. To identify research gaps in the existing literature
Five stages of a scoping review*
*Important: before embarking on a scoping review, make sure that a recent review on the same topic has not already been published.
The following articles describe the purpose and methods of a scoping review in detail:
Tricco, A. C., Lillie, E., Zarin, W., O'Brien, K. K., Colquhoun, H., Levac, D., ... & Hempel, S. (2018). PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR): checklist and explanation. Annals of internal medicine, 169(7), 467-473.
Peters, M. D., Godfrey, C. M., Khalil, H., McInerney, P., Parker, D., & Soares, C. B. (2015). Guidance for conducting systematic scoping reviews. International journal of evidence-based healthcare, 13(3), 141-146.
Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19-32. doi:10.1080/1364557032000119616
Munn, Z., Peters, M., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC medical research methodology, 18(1), 143. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-018-0611-x
PRISMA ScR Checklist
Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 2018.