Scoping searches

About scoping searches

A scoping search is a quick database search with 1 or 2 concepts in a research topic. It can help you:

  • learn more about a topic
  • determine the extent of existing research on your topic
  • identify key authors and papers
  • narrow your topic to a research question
  • plan a comprehensive search strategy for a literature review.

Where to do a scoping search

A scoping search can be run in:

  • the library catalogue
  • library databases
  • search engines (e.g. Google or Google Scholar)

Multidisciplinary databases like Scopus are useful scoping tools because of their wide subject coverage.

How to do a scoping search

To run a scoping search, type one term from each concept into the search bar and combine them with AND. In a database like Scopus, you can enter each term on its own line in the advanced search.

Look through the results of your scoping search to find:

  • key papers and leading journals in the research area
  • notable authors publishing research on the topic
  • synonyms for your concepts that can be included in your search.

Re-run the search with different terms to expand your knowledge of the topic and narrow your research question.