What are the main differences between Systematic Review and Scoping review?

Systematic Review and Scoping review?


Scoping and systematic reviews are novel techniques that researchers use to synthesize evidence. There are reportedly minimal guidelines on which approach to use when synthesizing evidence: systematic review or scoping review. This article aims to explain the differences between scoping reviews and systematic reviews. 

What is scoping review and systematic review?

1. Scoping Review

Scoping reviews are useful for synthesizing research evidence. They are frequently used to classify or organize available studies in an area. The analysis encompasses reviewing literature according to its type, characteristics, and quantity. Scoping review is a baseline evaluation of the breadth and scope of the research literature that is typically available. Its goal is to determine the depth and breadth of research evidence. Scoping Reviews are efficient when a thorough literature review does not exist. They are also useful when the body of literature is huge, varied, or diverse. Scoping reviews are an excellent technique for determining the extent or breadth of existing literature. They provide a clear indication of the quantity of the available literature. Moreover, they also provide a broad or deep overview of the topic’s focus. If you are still facing any issues, you can hire coursework writing services from reliable companies like Cheap Essay Writing UK.

2. Systematic Review

A systematic review examines the literature on a clearly defined research problem or question. Systematic reviews involve pre-structured procedures. They require the use of methodological approaches to determine the reliability of the literature. Systematic review equips the researcher with methodical and systematic processes to discover, choose, and evaluate relevant literature. Moreover, it also enables a researcher to collect and analyze the data from the literature review. Systematic reviews help reduce subjectivity. Consequently, they enables the researchers to reduce prejudice and collect reliable data. Reliable data leads to accurate conclusions and findings. 

What is the difference between a systematic review and a scoping review?

The primary difference between a scoping review and a systematic review is the approach to reviewing the relevant literature on a chosen topic. A scoping review is a quick method of collecting literature for a specific topic. This approach is useful when the topic is too broad, complicated, and diverse. It enables a researcher to study the topic comprehensively and read about it extensively to gather deep insights. It is an effective strategy for those subjects and topics which have a large number of existing studies. Researchers often conduct scoping review before a systematic review to determine what questions to ask.

On the other hand, a systematic literature review is a comprehensive assessment of primary research on a single, predefined research question. This approach recognizes, chooses, integrates, and evaluates the existing body of knowledge based on a predefined question. Let’s walk you through some other differences that exist between scoping and systematic review:

1. Scoping Review

To identify lacunas in an area of research

To capture the literature’s scope

Gives a chronological or detailed description of the existing body of knowledge

It is helpful when the research question is too broad and vague. It helps the researcher to develop precise and straightforward research questions

Useful when the researcher intends to explore a topic

It can help the researcher in deciding to include and exclude the reviewed literature after completing the review

Includes assessment and evaluation of every source of information

It does not include an evaluation of methodology and subjective biasness 

Researchers cannot make any recommendations since it is exploratory in nature

2. Systematic Review

Useful when the researcher has clear aims and objectives

Provides answers to a precise and focused research question

Helps in collecting empirical evidence based on a predefined research question

Concentrates on an answerable and precise research question

Protocol stage determines the inclusion and exclusion of data and information

Limited to reviewing specific literature

It includes an evaluation of methodology and identification of subjective biasness

Researchers can provide recommendations for practitioners and policymakers

Researchers deciding to choose between systematic or scoping reviews should consider the following things. A scoping review should be used to achieve the following objectives: 

To determine the various categories of research material that are relevant to a subject area

To gain a clear idea of major conceptual frameworks found in the literature

To investigate how to conduct research on a specific subject or topic

To determine the most important traits or elements associated with a conception

As a prelude to the systematic review

To identify and evaluate the gaps that exist in the available literature

A systematic review aims to achieve the following objectives:

To evaluate the relevant literature based on a predefined set of questions and research problem

To confirm existing research methods, discuss any changes, and discover new concepts 

To explore and predict future research topics

To discover and examine any contradictory findings

How long is scoping review?

The time it takes to conduct a scoping review depends upon the scope and breadth of the available literature on a given topic. It usually takes two weeks to 12 months to conduct a scoping review. But if the existing body of knowledge on the subject is too broad and diverse, it can even take more than a year. Some fields are so developed and so diverse that it takes years for researchers to scope out the entire body of knowledge. 

Do you include systematic reviews in a scoping review?

Scoping reviews inform the systematic reviews. They are a prelude to conduct systematic assessments of the available literature. Therefore, you cannot include a systematic review in a scoping review. 


Scoping reviews are an important strategy in the ever-growing inventory of knowledge gathering techniques. The selection of scoping or systematic review depends upon the intention of the researcher and the nature of the investigated topic. Researchers may decide to undertake a scoping review compared to a systematic review when the research goal is to identify gaps in knowledge. Furthermore, it is also helpful when the researcher wants to discover a vast body of literature. It helps explain ideas, analyze research methodologies, and develop research questions. Scoping reviews are undertaken for different goals than systematic reviews. But these techniques nonetheless require thorough and consistent methodologies to guarantee that the findings are accurate.

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