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Systematic Reviews & Meta-Analysis

Learn about the systematic review and meta-analysis process

What is a Protocol?

The PRISMA guidelines for the transparent reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses provides guidance on what to items to include in your protocol, such as:

  • The rationale and objective for your systematic review.
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Intended search terms, search strategies, and information sources
  • Data management plan to manage data and evidence
  • All variables for which data will be sought (such as PICO items)
  • All outcomes for which data will be sought, including main and additional outcomes
  • How you will extract data, assess risk of bias, synthesize data, and grade the evidence.

Resources to Help Develop Protocols

Guidelines and Resources for the Social Sciences

Guidelines and Resources for Health and Medicine

Guidelines and Resources for Other Disciplines

Registering Your Protocol

Once you have written your protocol, consider registering or publishing it. In some disciplines, journals may require proof that your protocol has been registered.Registration and/or publication improves transparency and can help prevent unnecessary duplication of research.

The following are a few organizations where you may register and publish your protocol: