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Knowledge Synthesis & Systematic Reviews

What's a Protocol?

Protocols are detailed documents that:

  • Introduce your review topic and provide justification for doing the review
  • List inclusion and exclusion criteria for items being reviewed
  • Provide a detailed account of the methods that will be used to identify, screen, and appraise studies for the review
  • Provide a detailed account of the analyses that will be conducted.

Essentially, your protocol is the first half of your manuscript, missing only the results, discussion, and conclusion sections. Research teams register their review protocols in order to maintain transparency of process and let the world know what they're working on. Some journals will even publish review protocols.

Protocol Development Guidance

Scoping Reviews

Systematic Reviews


Protocol Reporting Guidance

Unlike methodological guidance that provides instructions on how to create a protocol (see above), reporting guideance provides instructions on what type of information to include in your protocol document.

Data Management Planning

Data management planning is an important part of research planning. The University of Calgary has created a guide to data management planning processes and considerations for KS projects, so Future You will have well organized, well documented project data at the end of your review. Because you never know when you might have to refer back to something...

Where to Register Your Protocol

Where you register your protocol  is determined, in part, by the type of review you are doing.


Scoping Reviews


Systematic Reviews

see also: Guidance Notes for Registering A Systematic Review Protocol with PROSPERO

Where to Publish a Protocol

Journals that publish review protocols include: