In view of the growth of published papers, there is an increasing need for studies that summarise scientific research. An increasingly common review is a “methodology scoping review”, which provides a summary of existing analytical methods, techniques and software, proposed or applied in research articles, which address an analytical problem or further an analytical approach. However, guidelines for their design, implementation and reporting are limited.
Drawing on the experiences of the authors, which were consolidated through a series of face-to-face workshops, we summarise the challenges inherent in conducting a methodology scoping review and offer suggestions of best practice to promote future guideline development.
We identified three challenges of conducting a methodology scoping review. First, identification of search terms; one cannot usually define the search terms a priori and the language used for a particular method can vary across the literature. Second, the scope of the review requires careful consideration since new methodology is often not described (in full) within abstracts. Third, many new methods are motivated by a specific clinical question, where the methodology may only be documented in supplementary materials. We formulated several recommendations that build upon existing review guidelines. These recommendations ranged from an iterative approach to defining search terms through to screening and data extraction processes.
Although methodology scoping reviews are an important aspect of research, there is currently a lack of guidelines to standardise their design, implementation and reporting. We recommend a wider discussion on this topic.