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Step 1 Formulate objectives, question(s) and inclusion criteria

Formulate an objective, question(s) and inclusion criteria

Scoping reviews often address broad topics but still require clear, well-formed, focused questions in order to inform targeted searching for evidence.

JBI recommends the “PCC” mnemonic as a guide to construct a clear and meaningful title and the subsequent question(s) for a scoping review. The PCC mnemonic stands for the Population (or Participants), Concept, and Context.

PCC also informs the creation of inclusion criteria.

Setting the review objective and questions

The video below provides an overview and examples of formulating a scoping review's objective and questions (University of South Australia Library)


Inclusion criteria

A key element of scoping and systematic reviews is establishing a predetermined eligibility criteria to assist in the identification of relevant studies.

Some inclusion/exclusion criteria to consider are:


The review may focus characteristics specific to particular participants (e.g. age group or gender) if appropriate for the objectives of the scoping review and for the review question.


“The core concept examined by the scoping review should be clearly articulated to guide the scope and breadth of the inquiry. This may include details that pertain to elements that would be detailed in a standard systematic review, such as the “interventions”, and/ or “phenomena of interest”, and/or “outcomes” (as relevant for the particular scoping review).” (JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis, Chapter 11.2.4 Inclusion criteria)

Types of evidence sources

"For the purposes of a scoping review, the “source” of information can include any existing literature, e.g. primary research studies, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, letters, guidelines, websites, blogs, etc. Reviewers may wish to leave the source of information “open” to allow for the inclusion of any and all types of evidence. Otherwise, the reviewers may wish to impose limits on the types of sources they wish to include." (JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis, Chapter 11.2.4 Inclusion criteria)


Some reviews focus on populations in specific locations such as developing countries or rural communities.


A question may investigate a phenomenon in a specific setting such as experiences in a hospital, online, or at ante natal classes.


Date restrictions are generally only applied when investigating a topic which has only existed in/since a specific time period or updating an existing review.