Differentiating between mapping reviews and scoping reviews in the evidence synthesis ecosystem

  • Hanan Khalil
    Corresponding author: La Trobe University, School of Psychology and Public Health, Department of Public Health, 360 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia.
    La Trobe University, School of Psychology and Public Health, Department of Public Health, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia
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  • Andrea C. Tricco
    Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Epidemiology Division and Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Queen's Collaboration for Health Care Quality Joanna Briggs Institute Centre of Excellence, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada
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      Background and Objectives

      Scoping reviews, mapping reviews, and evidence map methodologies are increasingly used by researchers. The objective of this article is to outline the main difference between these types of evidence synthesis to improve their conduct.


      This article summarizes the key issues facing reviewers, who conduct scoping reviews, mapping reviews, and evidence maps and those who use the results and may engage in consultations during their development.


      Several differences exist between the methodologies, and these are in their protocol development, scope, inclusion criteria, data extraction, reporting, and use. Mapping reviews are mainly driven by questions of effectiveness of a particular intervention and hence they use the Participant Intervention Comparator Outcome Study type format similar to systematic reviews of effectiveness. Scoping reviews mostly use the Participant, context, concept (PCC) format, where they map a concept of interest relevant to a particular population in a specific setting and context. Data extraction is limited by only coding of studies and intervention characteristics in evidence maps. The results of the mapping reviews can be used inform research priorities and research funding, whereas, scoping reviews result may be used to inform policy development by clarifying key concepts and methods, and further research.


      We recommend authors who are planning to undertake scoping reviews confirm that their research question can be appropriately answered using a scoping review methodology, however, for broader research questions without the need for an in-depth analysis of the information, we recommend authors to consider mapping reviews.


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