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Northwell/ZSOM Scoping Review

Step by step guidance on conducting a scoping review.

Sources of Information for a Scoping Review

Searching the Literature

The Librarians at the Northwell Health/ZSOM Libraries are expert searchers who can support faculty investigators in conducting comprehensive literature searches for scoping reviews, assist with reference management and writing the search methodology section of the review.  Consider meeting with a librarian to discuss your systematic review project. Link to Guidelines

Key steps in searching for studies include:

  • Identifying databases to be searched.
  • Identifying search terminology.
  • Constructing and running database searches.
  • Conducting hand searches of specialized journals.
  • Searching reference lists of relevant studies.
  • Contacting recognized experts working in the field.
  • Searching relevant grey literature sources (e.g. clinical trials registers, conference proceedings).

Creating a Search Strategy How to write a search strategy for your systematic review - Covidence

It's s a good idea to build your initial search in PubMed/MEDLINE. Be sure to use both keywords and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

For each PCC element:

  1. Enter the relevant subject heading/s (MeSH). If you have more than one, give each its own line.
  2. Enter your keyword line/s.
  3. Then join these lines to make an 'overall set line' for that PCC element, by combining them with OR. ​
  4. Repeat this for each PCC element.
  5. Finally, combine all of your 'overall set lines' together with AND. This will find results that address all of your PCC elements.

(If your scoping review is outside the scope of the biomedical literature, please contact your librarian for database recommendations and assistance)

Building a Systematic Review Search Strategy 

  • This guide provides step-by-step guidance on building a systematic search. Although, it specifically discusses building a search strategy for a systematic review, building a search strategy for a scoping review follows the same steps using each PCC element. 


The Librarian as part of the Systematic Review Team

Librarians are an integral part of your evidence synthesis project.  Studies have shown teams that include a librarian write more comprehensive and reproducible reviews than teams without a librarian (click here to review the research). Cochrane Handbook section 4.2.1, IOM standard 3.1.1, and the Reporting Guidelines for PRISMA-S all highly recommend the significant involvement of a medical librarian in a systematic review (click here to review the manuals and guidelines).

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