This guide is intended for students, research assistants and faculty who are planning to undertake a systematic review, or who are interested in applying systematic research methods to a current project.
The protocol for your systematic review is a planning document that indicates how your review will be carried out - it includes the rationale for your review, your research question, and planned methodology. Think of it as the 'blueprint' for your review. Here are some examples of protocol templates to help guide your protocol development.
Registration of your protocol provides transparency and accountability to the review process, and helps mitigate reporting biases by revealing any differences between the methods or outcomes reported in the published review and those planned in the registered protocol. Some common places to register your review are listed here, and include:
Before you write your review, you should consider what conducting and reporting guidelines you will be using. Conducting guidelines tell you how to do the review. Reporting guidelines tell you how you should report your review. These can be discipline-specific, or specific to a particular review methodology. If you are planning to publish your review in a journal, you may wish to consult their submission guidelines, as journals may require you to use a particular guideline, such as the PRISMA checklist or PRISMA flow chart. The Equator Network is also a good sources for available guidelines.