While not all publishers require a registered protocol, having one is best practice for Scoping Reviews. A priori protocols also provide the added benefit of helping to outline the full process in advance so that you have a plan to follow.
A protocol includes a research question, a search strategy, inclusion criteria, and a plan for extracting and charting the data.
Scoping Reviews are broad by nature. As the name suggests, their purpose is to identify the scope of the literature on a topic. Therefore, the research questions that a Scoping Review can answer are also broad. Questions appropriate for Scoping Review methodology include:
What is known from the literature about the use of animal-assisted therapies in people with mood disorders?
Formulating a research question (RQ) may require some initial searching on your topic, especially if it is one you haven't already researched. There are three primary elements of a Scoping Review RQ. However, not all RQs need to include all 3:
As you develop your research question, it is helpful to define your key concepts. This will help with the development of your inclusion criteria as well as your search strategy.
For example, what do you mean by adolescent? What age range are you including?
If you would like further help formulating your RQ, there are frameworks that can help as well as provide the foundational elements for your search strategy. Most of these frameworks were developed for the more specific RQs involved in Systematic Reviews, but they can also be helpful in thinking through your Scoping Review RQ.
Another part of your protocol is identifying in advance which parts of the review will be completed by individual team members. There are a few best practices to keep in mind:
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