Systematic Reviews are comprehensive, in-depth analyses of research conducted on a particular question designed to inform clinical practice and policy decisions. The review should be a planned, methodical project that aims to uncover all relevant research via a systematic search, analysis and synthesis of results. In order to adhere to a strict methodology, a protocol should be created to serve as a plan for the review.
Protocols include the research question, team members, search strategy, databases to search, inclusion and exclusion criteria, quality assessment tool, data extraction template, software and more. By creating the protocol with your research team, you are able to conduct a higher quality review. You can register the protocol to serve as a record and be cited in the methods section of your manuscript. It is best practice to create and register a protocol, whether or not your target journals require it in the author submission guidelines. If you create a protocol and stick to it, your review will be of higher quality and have less risk for reporting bias.
PROSPERO is an international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews with a health related outcome. Key features from the review protocol are recorded and maintained as a permanent record. This record aims to provide a comprehensive listing to avoid duplication and reduce opportunity for reporting bias by allowing for the comparison of the completed review with what was planned in the protocol. For more information about PROSPERO, please see the following link:
For information on how to register your protocol, please see the following link: