What is a Protocol?
A systematic review protocol states your hypothesis, rationale, and methodology. It is designed for the members of the team to use the protocol as a guide to conducting the systematic review. It is recommended to register your protocol and have it publicly available prior to beginning your review. Further, it helps reduce opportunity for reporting bias by enabling comparison of the completed review with what was planned in the protocol.This helps with transparency, reproducibility, and it ensures that other teams are not creating duplicate research. Below is a checklist for the structure of literature reviews from PRISMA and Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. PRISMA focuses on the reporting of reviews evaluating randomized trials, but can also be used as a basis for reporting systematic reviews of other types of research, particularly evaluations of interventions.
The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is the official guide that describes in detail the process of preparing and maintaining Cochrane systematic reviews on the effects of healthcare interventions. All authors should consult the Handbook for guidance on the methods used in Cochrane systematic reviews. The Handbook includes guidance on the standard methods applicable to every review (planning a review, searching and selecting studies, data collection, risk of bias assessment, statistical analysis, GRADE and interpreting results), as well as more specialised topics (non-randomized studies, adverse effects, complex interventions, equity, economics, patient-reported outcomes, individual patient data, prospective meta-analysis, and qualitative research).
Consider registering your review to reduce duplication of studies and to let others know that yours is being completed. Further, journal publishers now look for registration to ensure that the reviews follow the pre-defined criteria for conducting a systematic review. Below is a list of registries to consider. Contact the library to learn more about registries.