Bank Street Library Blog

Rapid, Scoping, & Umbrella Reviews

Evidence Synthesis: Part 2

This blog post is the second in a series exploring Evidence Synthesis. We’ve already had a quick look at the differences between a systematic review and a traditional literature review, so let’s look at three other types of evidence synthesis: rapid reviews, scoping reviews, and umbrella reviews. These types of reviews are similar, but they differ in their purpose, methodology, and scope. Here are the key differences:

Rapid Review

  • Purpose: To quickly synthesize evidence on a specific, narrow question to inform urgent decision-making.
  • Methodology: Streamlined systematic review process with limitations on the extent of the literature search, study selection, quality assessment, and data extraction.
  • Scope: Focused on a specific, narrow research question with limited search parameters and inclusion criteria.
  • Time frame: Typically completed within a few weeks to a few months.

Scoping Review

  • Purpose: To map the existing literature on a broad topic, identify key concepts, and determine the potential scope of a more comprehensive review.
  • Methodology: Follows a systematic approach but does not assess the quality of included studies or provide a synthesis of the evidence.
  • Scope: Addresses a broad research question, including a wide range of study designs and methodologies.
  • Time frame: Generally takes several months to a year to complete.

Umbrella Review

  • Purpose: To summarize the evidence from multiple systematic reviews or meta-analyses on a specific topic.
  • Methodology: Systematically searches for, selects, and assesses the quality of existing systematic reviews or meta-analyses.
  • Scope: Focuses on a specific research question but includes only the highest level of evidence (i.e., systematic reviews and meta-analyses).
  • Time frame: Depends on the number and complexity of the included reviews but generally takes several months to a year.

In summary, rapid reviews prioritize speed and focus on a narrow question, scoping reviews map the literature on a broad topic, and umbrella reviews synthesize evidence from multiple systematic reviews or meta-analyses. The choice of review type depends on the research question, available resources, and the intended use of the findings.

Claude 3 Opus (Pro Plan)

Along with exploring evidence synthesis I am also interested in generative A.I.  I was curious to see what Claude would do with the following prompt:

“Explain the differences in a rapid review, a scoping review, and an umbrella review”

Although the above explanations are rather simple, they may suffice as a quick answer to the this type of question “What’s a rapid review?” We hope that by providing this overview, we’re able to increase awareness and understanding of the diverse methodologies employed in evidence synthesis.