Systematic Review vs Scoping Review: What's the Difference?​

When conducting a research study, it’s essential to understand the different types of reviews available to help guide your work. Two popular methods are systematic reviews and scoping reviews. However, many researchers are unsure of the difference between the two.

A systematic review is a rigorous, comprehensive, and transparent process that summarizes the available evidence on a specific research question. It involves a systematic and explicit method for identifying, selecting, and appraising relevant studies and synthesizing the findings. A systematic review aims to provide a high-level overview of the current state of evidence on a topic and to determine the quality of the available research.

On the other hand, a scoping review is a type of review that aims to map and describe the characteristics of the existing literature on a topic. It provides a broad overview of the available evidence base, including the range and type of studies, the key themes, and the gaps in the current knowledge. Unlike systematic reviews, scoping reviews are less structured and don’t involve a formal appraisal of the quality of the studies.

In conclusion, while systematic and scoping reviews have unique purposes and approaches, they both are essential in guiding and informing research. When deciding which type of review to conduct, it’s essential to consider the research question and the goals of the review. Systematic reviews are best suited for research questions that require a comprehensive and rigorous synthesis of the available evidence. In contrast, scoping reviews are more appropriate for exploring the breadth and depth of a topic.