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Structured Review Service: Protocols

What is a Protocol?

PRISMA definition: A systematic review protocol describes the rationale, hypothesis, and planned methods of the review. It should be prepared before a review is started and used as a guide to carry out the review.

This is especially important because a systematic review is a research method that can guide clinical decision-making. However, protocols can be useful for other review types as well.

Benefits to writing a protocol:

  • Ensure that your methodology is established a priori
  • Work out all aspects of the process with your review group before investing too much time
  • Aligns the group to the intent, methods, and flow of the review
  • Systematic reviews are a type of research; research requires a protocol

See the links below for examples of protocol templates.

Why Register a Protocol?

Registries list reviews that are in progress. They are important because it lets others in the academic and research community know that a review on your topic is underway. It also provides a registry number for the review group when submitting the final paper for publication.

See the links below for examples of review registries.

Examples of published/registered protocols

  • Farokhi, M. R., Lacy, J., Chapa, I., Garcia, S., Geelhoed, M., Johnson, L. D., Lesser, J., Stone, M., Woarabo, H. J., Zorek, J. A. (2022). Defining and classifying co-curricular interprofessional education for the health professions: A scoping review protocol. JBI Evidence Synthesis, 20(7), 1842-1851.

  • Su, Z., Cheshmehzangi, A., Bentley, B. L., McDonnell, D., Šegalo, S., Ahmad, J., Chen, H., Terjesen, L. A., Lopez, E., Wagers, S., Shi, F., Abbas, J., Wang, C., Cai, Y., Xiang, Y.-T., & da Veiga, C. P. (2022). Technology-based interventions for health challenges older women face amid COVID-19: A systematic review protocol. Systematic Reviews11(1), 271.

  • Kanzler, K. E., Kilpela, L. S., Pugh, J., Garcini, L. M., Gaspard, C. S., Aikens, J., Reynero, E., Tsevat, J., Lopez, E. S., Johnson-Esparza, Y., Ramirez, A. G., & Finley, E. P. (2021). Methodology for task-shifting evidence-based psychological treatments to non-licenced/lay health workers: protocol for a systematic review. BMJ Open11(2), e044012.
  • Lemke, K. C., Velasquez, S. T., Bland, L., Lopez, E., Ajtai, R., Ford, L. A., Amezaga, B., Cleveland, J. A., Ferguson, D., Richardson, W., Saenz, D., & Zorek, J. A. (2021). Simulation interprofessional education in health professions education: A scoping review protocol. JBI Evidence Synthesis.
  • Moote, R., Ratcliffe, T.A., Gaspard, C., Kennedy, A., Riccio Leach, E., Vives, M., & Zorek, J.A.  (2021). Clinical interprofessional education in the health professions:  a scoping review protocol.  JBI Evidence Synthesis.  Advance online publication. doi: