Scoping Reviews

Role of the librarian in this stage

A librarian can advise you on study selection for your scoping review, including: 

  • How to use Covidence to screen citations and manage the screening process
  • How to apply your review inclusion and exclusion criteria to the screening process

Contact HSL About Your Review

Email us

Ready to start a scoping review? HSL Librarians can help!

Fill out the Systematic/Scoping Review Request Form and the best-suited librarian will get back to you promptly. Our systematic/ scoping review service is only available to faculty, staff, students, and others who are affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill.

Screening Results with Covidence

We recommend that scoping review teams use Covidence to screen results. Covidence is provided free from HSL and its partners, and there is no limit to the number of reviews that can be created.

How does screening work in Covidence?

Once you have completed literature searching and compiled all citations, it is time to screen the results. The purpose of screening is to eliminate studies that do not meet your inclusion criteria. Two independent reviewers should screen all studies, starting with a title and abstract screening, followed by a full-text screening. A third reviewer should resolve any conflicts.

During the title/abstract screening, for each reference, each reviewer should read the title and abstract and make a decision:

  • No: This article does not meet inclusion criteria and should not be included in the systematic review.
  • Maybe: There is not enough information in the title/abstract to make a decision (move to full-text screening stage).
  • Yes: This article appears to meet inclusion criteria and should move to the full-text screening stage.

During the full-text screening, for each reference, read the full-text and make a decision:

  • Include: This article meets inclusion criteria and should be included in the systematic review.
  • Exclude: This article does not meet inclusion criteria and should not be included in the systematic review.

Remember, all voting should be blinded, meaning team members should be unable to see how others cast their votes.

PRISMA statement

"PRISMA stands for Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. It is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The aim of the PRISMA Statement is to help authors improve the reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The PRISMA Statement consists of a 27-item checklist and a four-phase flow diagram." (From prisma-statement.org ).

PRISMA also has a number of extensions for other types of reviews, including scoping reviews. Scoping reviews typically report study selection decisions in a flow diagram like systematic reviews, and it is acceptable to use the PRISMA flow diagram for both types of reviews. More information on PRISMA for Scoping reviews can be found at the link below.


PRISMA and Covidence:

Covidence will track numbers of citations screened at each stage and how many are ultimately included in the review. These numbers can be copy and pasted into a PRISMA diagram template. A step-by-step guide on creating a PRISMA diagram is shown below.

Which PRISMA 2020 Flow Diagram should I use?

In PRISMA 2020, there are now expanded options depending on where you search and whether you are updating a review. Version 1 of PRISMA 2020 includes databases and clinical trial or preprint registers.  Version 2 includes additional sections for elaborating on your grey literature search, such as searches on websites or in citation lists.  Both versions are available for new and updated reviews from the Equator Network's PRISMA Flow Diagram page.

Templates for New Reviews

PRISMA 2020 V1 - Databases and Registers PRISMA 2020 V2 - Databases, Registers, and Grey Literature 

The PRISMA diagram for Databases and Registers follows the same format as the previous 2009 PRISMA diagramThe PRISMA diagram for Databases, Registers, and Grey Literature has an additional column on the right side of the diagram for reporting of grey literature searches and results

The PRISMA diagram for Databases
and Registers
follows the same format
as the previous 2009 PRISMA diagram
The PRISMA diagram for Databases, Registers, and Grey Literature
has an additional column on the right side of the diagram for
reporting of grey literature searches and results