Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Optimising the process for conducting scoping reviews
  1. Colleen Pawliuk1,
  2. Helen L Brown2,
  3. Kim Widger3,
  4. Tammie Dewan4,
  5. Anne-Mette Hermansen1,
  6. Marie-Claude Grégoire5,6,
  7. Rose Steele7,
  8. Harold (Hal) Siden1,4
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, BC Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Woodward Library, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto Lawrence S Bloomberg, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4Department of Paediatrics, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  5. 5Department of Paediatrics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  6. 6Department of Paediatrics, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  7. 7School of Nursing, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Harold (Hal) Siden, Department of Paediatrics, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; hsiden{at}


Knowledge synthesis constitutes a key part of evidence-based medicine and a scoping review is a type of knowledge synthesis that maps the breadth of literature on a topic. Conducting a scoping review is resource intensive and, as a result, it can be challenging to maintain best practices throughout the process. Much of the current guidance describes a scoping review framework or broad ways to conduct a scoping review. However, little detailed guidance exists on how to complete each stage to optimise the process. We present five recommendations based on our experience when conducting a particularly challenging scoping review: (1) engage the expertise of a librarian throughout the process, (2) conduct a truly systematic search, (3) facilitate communication and collaboration, (4) explore new tools or repurpose old ones, and (5) test every stage of the process. These recommendations add to the literature by providing specific and detailed advice on each stage of a scoping review. Our intent is for these recommendations to aid other teams that are undertaking knowledge synthesis projects.

  • information science

Statistics from


  • Contributors CP participated in the conceptualisation of the project, wrote the initial manuscript draft and revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. HLB, KW, TD, A-MH, M-CG, RS and HS participated in the conceptualisation the project and revised the manuscript for important intellectual content.

  • Funding The scoping review referenced in this paper was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Knowledge Synthesis Grant #328968.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.