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Systematic Review

This guide aims to provide tools and resources that can be used for conducting a systematic review in medical and health sciences.

What is a Systematic Review Protocol?

A systematic review protocol:

  • serves as a road map for your review
  • specifies the objectives, methods, and outcomes of primary interest of the systematic review
  • promotes transparency of methods
  • allows your peers to review how you will extract information to quantitatively summarize your outcome data

Source: Office of Research Services, National Institutes of Health

The protocol should be developed before you actually begin your systematic review. This will ensure your review is carefully planned. By developing a protocol, the purpose, rationale, hypothesis, and methods you plan to use in your review are well considered and explicitly documented.

Protocol Reporting Guidelines

Here are some guidelines on protocol reporting. They can help you understand the key elements in a protocol and plan your protocol.

Where to Register a Protocol?

Once you have written your protocol, it is advisable to register it. This will help avoid other people conducting a review similar to your topic and reduce unnecessary duplication of research effort.

Note that: Some journal publishers, such as BMJ Open and Systematic Reviews, require protocol registration prior to starting the systematic review. The protocols will be published as with research articles.

Further reading: Pieper, D., & Rombey, T. (2022). Where to prospectively register a systematic review. Systematic Reviews, 11(1), 8-8.