Skip to Main Content

DMSC 7005

Library Tutorial

Capstone Project

As part of the series of capstone courses in the DMSc program, you will be asked to plan and undertake a scoping review project. This page is an introduction to scoping reviews and their methodology, and acts as a primer before you starting learning in-depth through your coursework.

What Is a Scoping Review?

"Scoping reviews are a type of evidence synthesis that aims to systematically identify and map the breadth of evidence available on a particular topic, field, concept, or issue, often irrespective of source (ie, primary research, reviews, non-empirical evidence) within or across particular contexts. Scoping reviews can clarify key concepts/definitions in the literature and identify key characteristics or factors related to a concept, including those related to methodological research."

Source: What are scoping reviews? Providing a formal definition of scoping reviews as a type of evidence synthesis

Common Reasons for Conducting a Scoping Review:

  • To identify the types of available evidence in a given field.
  • To identify and analyze knowledge gaps.
  • To clarify key concepts/definitions in the literature.
  • To examine how research is conducted on a certain topic
  • To identify key characteristics or factors related to a concept.
  • As a precursor to a systematic review.

Required elements of a Scoping Review:

  • Conducted according to JBI guidelines
  • Reported according to the PRISMA-ScR standards
  • File a protocol a priori
  • Reproducible and transparent search strategies of multiple applicable databases and grey literature sources
  • Two phases of screening: Title/Abstract and Full Text 
  • Documentation of included and excluded studies according to the PRISMA flow diagram
  • Documentation of data extraction process per protocol
  • Citation of included studies, guidelines and tools utilized

Research Question Development

Scoping reviews typically seek to answer broad research questions or explore broad topics. As such, question frameworks such as PICO rarely apply. The JBI Manual recommends the use of the Population, Concept, and Context framework to guide question development. Your research question should identify the population, concept, and contexts of interest to your scoping review.

Your research question may be one primary question, or can be a primary question with sub-questions that clarify aspects of your PCC. As scoping reviews seek to review the state of the existing literature, your question may reference existing knowledge in some manner. 

  • Important characteristics of participants, including age and other qualifying criteria. In some circumstances, participants per se are not a relevant inclusion criterion.
  • The core concept examined by the scoping review. This may include elements that would be detailed in a standard systematic review, such as interventions or outcomes.
  • May include cultural factors such as geographic location and/or specific racial or gender-based interests. In some cases, context may also encompass details about the specific setting.

For assistance with question development, please contact your liaison librarian.

Example PCC Question

What is known in the existing literature about burnout among health sciences students undergoing clinical education?

  • Population = health sciences students
  • Concept = burnout
  • Context = clinical education

Scoping Review Guidelines