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The Scoping Review Method: Mapping the Literature in “Structural Change” Public Health Interventions

By: , , , & Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case discusses how we used scoping review methodology to map the literature in an emergent area of research, “structural change” public health interventions. Scoping reviews are similar to systematic reviews in both scale and rigor; both of these literature review methodologies are comprehensive approaches to reviewing the literature on a topic. However, while a systematic review attempts to answer a specific, targeted research question, a scoping review is designed to map and categorize all of the literature on a broad topic. For this reason, it is an excellent method to employ in emergent research areas, in which researchers have not yet conducted systematic reviews or otherwise attempted to record the entirety of a scholarly conversation. In this case report, we discuss advantages and disadvantages to the methodology, as well as the lessons we learned from our experience, and our recommendations for researchers who utilize this method. We encountered challenges including time limitations, finding a balance between a search strategy that was neither too narrow nor too broad, and adjusting the search throughout the process to accommodate new vocabulary terms as we discovered them.

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