Writing a review protocol

Regardless of the type of evidence synthesis you intend to complete, it is highly recommended that you compose a review protocol.

The purpose of a protocol is to outline your project in detail. Writing a protocol has many benefits:

  • Protocols provide an opportunity for your team to anticipate potential problems
  • Protocols encourage clarity about the scope, stages, and duration of the project
  • Protocols prompt your team to plan for all stages of the project
  • Protocols make it easier to compose the final manuscript
  • Protocols can increase transparency
  • Protocols can help limit bias

Options for protocol registration of evidence syntheses

It is recommended that you register your review protocol. Protocol registration helps to increase transparency and avoid research waste. There are a variety of avenues for protocol registrations.


BMJ Open

BioMed Central

JMIR Research Protocols

World Journal of Meta-analysis

Exclusive systematic review registration sites


Research Registry-Registry of Systematic Reviews/Meta-Analyses


Nonspecific research registration sites

OSF Registries


Data repositories



Credit to Kolaski, K., Logan, L. R., & Ioannidis, J. P. A. (2023). Guidance to best tools and practices for systematic reviews. Systematic Reviews, 12(1), 96. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-023-02255-9

Systematic review protocols

Your systematic review protocol is essentially a detailed plan of your project, including a timeline, anticipated author contributions, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and more.

When creating a systematic review protocol, it can be useful to review PRISMA-P, the reporting standard for systematic review protocols.

You can find a template for systematic review protocols attached at the bottom of this box.

Protocols for other types of evidence synthesis

Scoping reviews

General evidence synthesis