Systematic Review vs. Scoping Review

Systematic Review vs. Scoping Review

Not sure whether to conduct a systematic review or a scoping review?

The table below outlines the basics of what makes these two methodologies different.

Systematic Review Scoping Review
Purpose To answer a specific research question by synthesizing as much existing evidence as possible To find out more about a topic, and provide a description of the body of related research
Types of questions Is intervention A effective in achieving outcomes X, Y, Z in population Q?

Is intervention A more effective than intervention B at providing population Q with outcomes X, Y, Z?

In what contexts have people applied intervention A?

What forms, models, or types of interventions have been offered to population Q?

Systematic search Yes Yes
Critical appraisal Yes Optional
What this method can achieve If there is sufficient literature, a systematic review can state whether a specific intervention works or not, and provide recommendations based on the synthesis of evidence A scoping review can provide a comprehensive overview or map of a phenomenon’s documentation in the literature

A scoping review can potentially form the basis for one or many systematic reviews by helping identify all interventions used

What this method cannot achieve If there isn’t enough literature, or the literature is too varied, a systematic review may not be able to support any recommendations

A systematic review can be premature if it is not yet known which interventions to examine or compare

A scoping review can’t make any kind of recommendations about what works and what doesn’t; it can only describe what others have done

Systematic Review vs. Scoping Review