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Evidence Synthesis / Systematic Review: Protocols


A protocol is a road map for your research which will help to define your question and plan your methodology. Registering a protocol is usually required for most review types. Always check first before you begin to make sure that similar research isn’t or hasn’t already been done. This your piece of research.

Why is a protocol important?

  1. Sets a framework for the review
  2. Helps planning, scheduling, establishing boundaries
  3. Minimize risk of bias
  4. Access to peer review (Cochrane protocols are peer reviewed)
  5. Less duplication of work
  6. Endorses transparency of methods

Sage Research Methods

Sage Research Methods - guidance for developing practical skills for the research process through a series of case studies and videos.

Registering your protocol

Campbell Collaboration produces systematic reviews and other evidence-based synthesis in areas such as crime, justice, education, social welfare and international development.

Cochrane Library of Systematic Reviews and Trials. Search the Cochrane Library to see if there are any protocols or reviews similar to your topic of interest before you develop and register a new review.

Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) - is an index of over 35,000 systematic reviews of health and social care interventions.

Epistemonikos - a collaborative multi-lingual database of health evidence. It is the largest source of systematic reviews, relevant for health-decision making, and a large source of other types of scientific evidence. (Epistemonikos website, April 2021).

Open Science Framework - an open-source project management tool which helps researchers through the research life cycle.

PROSPERO is the international prospective register for Systematic Review Protocols.

Pubmed Clinical Queries - a useful resource to quickly find clinical studies.

The Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) evidence based practice database contains over 3,000 records across seven publication types including Best Practice Information Sheets, Systematic Review Protocols and Systematic Reviews.