What are scoping studies?
Procedures for rapidly gathered evidence
Julie Robinson, Social Care Institute for Excellence
Little research has been done on rapidly gathered To investigate different definitions and methods of
evidence, especially “scoping studies” and the scoping studies in health and social care and benchmark
methodologies associated with them. SCIE’s own scoping procedure.
Scoping studies vary greatly; there is no common definition
Social Policy and Practice, Social Work Abstracts, Social and the methodologies used also vary. The purpose of scopes
Services Abstracts, Age Info, Medicine, Social Care is broadly similar, with many being policy orientated and
Online, UK theses, LISA, IBSS, British Library Catalogue, pointing the way to further research. SCIE’s scoping procedure
were searched in June 2009. is methodologically sound, reasonably systematic, transparent
and robust. This approach is well suited to the social care area.
Planning the scope Conducting the scope Results delivery and finishing
1. Develop a search strategy 1. Present results
1. Identify the need for the scope.
2. Search and gather information using a
2. Arrange timescales for conducting the
range of sources 2. Full text retrieval
3. Manage data with reference
3. Prepare a proposal for the
management and mind-mapping 3. Obtain feedback
scope/formulate a question
4. Conduct face-to-face reference
4. Select studies to include in results 4. Scope formally signed off
Scoping is still in the developmental stage in terms of procedural formality. Its main strength is the ability to get to the heart of a
wide range of information and evidence when specialist skills are applied. Is a more standardised approach needed to underpin
Julie Robinson, Project Information Officer
Social Care Institute for Excellence