There is the need for robust alternatives to the widely used spherical harmonic analysis when measurements are restricted to a region, or when high spatial frequency fields with much less parameters are required. Spherical cap harmonic analysis (SCHA) is one of the preferred alternative regional modelling techniques over the last decades. This paper presents a comprehensive and systematic review of the SCHA literature, underlining the respective merits and weaknesses of the ways in which the technique has been used since it was proposed in the context of geomagnetic field modelling. It reflects the multidisciplinary use of this technique and examines the evidences presented mainly in Earth and planetary science journals. Some bibliometric parameters are provided to understand how the technique and the knowledge of its limitations have progressed and improved, and some avenues for future research are highlighted.