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Scoping Reviews: Write the Review

Created by Health Science Librarians

Role of the librarian in this stage

A librarian can advise you on the process of organizing and writing up your systematic review, including: 

  • Applying the PRISMA reporting templates and the level of detail to include for each element
  • How to report a systematic review search strategy and your review methodology in the completed review
  • How to use prior published reviews to guide you in organizing your manuscript 

Contact HSL About Your Review

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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.

Writing your review

Be sure to reference reporting standards when writing your review. This helps ensure that you communicate essential components of your methods, results, and conclusions. There are a number of tools that can be used to ensure compliance with reporting guidelines. A few review-writing resources are listed below.

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About PRISMA for Scoping Reviews

The PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA- ScR) is a list of 22 reporting items for review teams when completing a scoping review.

The PRISMA-ScR was adapted from the original PRISMA statement, and it is intended to provide guidance on the reporting of scoping reviews. This reporting guideline agrees with the JBI guidance for scoping reviews, which highlights the importance of methodological rigor in the conduct of scoping reviews.

PRISMA 2020 and other PRISMA extensions

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  • Lockwood C, Tricco AC. Preparing scoping reviews for publication using methodological guides and reporting standards. Nurs Health Sci. 2020;22(1):1-4. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12673
  • McGowan J, Straus S, Moher D, et al. Reporting scoping reviews-PRISMA ScR extension. J Clin Epidemiol. 2020;123:177-179. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2020.03.016
  • Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, et al. PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR): Checklist and Explanation. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169(7):467-473. doi: 10.7326/M18-0850

Sections of your review and how to report them for PRISMA-ScR

Scoping reviews follow the same structure as original research articles. Sections of your manuscript are shown as bold headings in the PRISMA checklist.  Click each section below to see more details about what that section contains.

Describe your manuscript and state whether it is a scoping review, systematic review, or meta-analysis.

PRISMA Tip Sheet: Item 1- Title


Provide a structured summary that includes (as applicable): background, objectives, eligibility criteria, sources of evidence, charting methods, results, and conclusions that relate to the review questions and objectives.

PRISMA Tip Sheet: Item 2- Structured Summary


Describe the rationale for the review and provide a statement of questions being addressed. Report:
  • Rationale: Describe the rationale for the review in the context of what is already known. Explain why the review questions/objectives lend themselves to a scoping review approach.

    PRISMA Tip Sheet: Item 3- Rationale

  • Objectives: Provide an explicit statement of the questions and objectives being addressed with reference to their key elements (e.g., population or participants, concepts, and context) or other relevant key elements used to conceptualize the review questions and/or objectives.

    PRISMA Tip Sheet: Item 4- Objectives


Include details regarding the protocol, eligibility criteria, databases searched, full search strategy of at least one database (often reported in appendix), and the study selection process. Describe how data were extracted and analyzed. If a librarian is part of your research team, that person may be best suited to write this section. Report:


Include the numbers of articles screened at each stage using a PRISMA diagram. Include information about included study characteristics, risk of bias (quality assessment) within studies, and results across studies. Report:

Summarize main findings, including the strength of evidence and limitations of the review. Provide a general interpretation of the results and implications for future research. Report:


Describe any sources of funding for the systematic review.

Report sources of funding for the included sources of evidence, as well as sources of funding for the scoping review. Describe the role of the funders of the scoping review and any potential conflicts of interest.

PRISMA Tip Sheet: Item 22- Funding


Include entire search strategy for at least one database in the appendix (include search strategies for all databases searched for more transparency).

Search Strategy Documentation Template

Refer to the PRISMA checklist for more information.  Example text for each of the 22 PRISMA-ScR reporting items can be found in the Discussion section of the article Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, et al. PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR): Checklist and Explanation. Ann Intern Med. 2018;169(7):467-473. doi:10.7326/M18-0850.