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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Literature Reviews in Medicine and Health

Overview of types of literature reviews

Before you begin

A scoping review is exploratory in nature, designed to assess the characteristics and quality of evidence literature related to a specific topic.

Some things to consider:

  • Your topic should be one that is focused on a specific issue or intervention that may not have not been widely explored.
  • If it is too broad you won't be able to wrangle the literature to a manageable amount.
  • If it is too narrow you won't be able to find sufficient literature to produce meaningful results.
  • Consult the literature to be sure you are not duplicating existing scoping or systematic reviews.
  • Make sure you the time and manpower to complete the review.

Scoping Review Steps

Assemble the team
  • PI, 2+ reviewers, librarian
  • Define roles, responsibilities and expectations
Formulate the question
  • Use PICO or other appropriate framework to formulate the research question.
  • Explore the literature to see what studies have been done in your area of interest; tweak your question if needed based on what you find.
Develop a Protocol
  • Team members
  • Research Question, objectives and rationale for the study
  • Databases and terms/keywords for searching
  • Eligibility criteria
    • Study population(s)
    • Study design/methodologies
    • Intervention of interest
    • Outcome(s) of interest
    • Setting
    • Publication type(s)
    • Date range
    • Language
  • Define data elements for extraction
  • Identify assessment process and tools
  • Methods for data synthesis and reporting
  • Register the protocol as appropriate
Conduct literature searches
Collect/organize citations
  • Select citation manager
    • Mendeley, Zotero, Endnote
  • De-duplicate citations
  • Upload citations to screening tool as needed
    • Covidence, Rayyan, Abstrackr, HAWC
Screen citations (two or more team members)
  • Review titles & abstracts using protocol inclusions/exclusion criteria
  • Locate full text and review second time using protocol inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • Create PRISMA flow chart
Extract data
  • Extract data elements that address objectives
    • study details - author(s), publication date, title, DOI, etc.)
    • demographics of study population
    • methodology
    • intervention(s)
    • outcome(s)
  • Identify key concepts, types of evidence and themes that emerge from the data
  • Create data tables that reflect results
Write the review
  • Consult guidance documentation for writing/reporting standards
  • Write the review
  • Create supplementary materials