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Systematic reviews, scoping reviews and other evidence syntheses

Overview of evidence synthesis reviews and relevant strategies, tools and resources.

Research Protocol

  • Research protocols explicitly describe the methods for the synthesis review
    • Are based on the research question for the review
    • Must be in place before the project gets underway
  • Research protocols outline:
    • rationale for the review
    • review objectives
    • methods to be used in locating, selecting and critically appraising identified studies, and
    • methods for collecting, analysing and reporting data from included studies

Why do you need a research protocol?

Research protocols promote research integrity, accountability and transparency

  • Protocols minimize bias by guarding against arbitrary decision-making as the review project proceeds
  • Enable readers of published reviews to:
    • appraise review methods
    • detect variations from stated review methods
    • assess for selective reporting

Preparing a research protocol

Key elements to be included in a research protocol:

  • Protocol registration site (e.g. Prospero) and number
  • Rationale & objectives for the review
  • Inclusion & exclusion criteria: what studies are eligible for your review?
    • Consider study designs, populations, years of publication, publication status, language, etc.
  • Information sources to be searched
  • Draft of literature searching strategy
  • Strategy for managing records and data
  • Screening & selection process
  • Data extraction methods
  • Data synthesis methods

Tools for preparing a research protocol

  • PRSIMA-Scr
    • PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews published in Annals of Internal Medicine. See the Appendix under Methods for details about Protocol and Registration.
  • It is good practice to register the review protocol before your project gets underway:
    • provides an immutable record of your project
    • increases transparency & rigour of research through improved planning

Protocol registries:

  • PROSPERO -- international register of systematic review protocols in health sciences
  • OSF Registries -- international, interdisciplinary registry for all forms of research including systematic reviews

Reference:  Systematic Reviews in Health by Murray Turner at University of Canberra

Reference: Systematic Reviews by Lydia Thorne at University of Ontario Institute of Technology