Systematic Reviews

Role of the librarian in this stage

When writing your protocol, a librarian can help you:

  • Develop and refine your research plan according to systematic review best practices 
  • Advise on your literature searching methods documentation 
  • Determine if/where to publish or share your completed protocol

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Determine eligibility criteria

In order to reduce bias, eligibility criteria need to be determined early in the systematic review planning process. The term "eligibility criteria" refers to what you plan to include and exclude from your systematic review. These criteria are decided after the research question is developed but before searches are completed. Criteria to consider include study design, dates of interest, whether you will include non-English studies, study duration, and setting. Below is a list of criteria that may be used to determine inclusion or exclusion.

Type of criteria Example
Date of publication Date ranges may be applied when updating a systematic review or when specific to an intervention or therapy
Language of publication Include studies in any language or limit to those that can be read by the review team
Type of participants May be limited to specific groups of people or age ranges
Study design May include specific study designs and exclude others based on best to answer the research question
Intervention of interest Includes interventions of interest and excludes any others
Outcomes of interest Includes outcomes of interest and may exclude studies reporting outcomes not of interest
Setting May be limited to a specific setting like inpatient, ambulatory, classroom, etc.
Type of publication Reviews, editorials, commentaries, and letters are often excluded

Guidelines and standards

Templates

Use any of the templates below to assist in writing a systematic review protocol.

Make your protocol visible

You can upload your protocol to a website or registry and make it accessible to others. While not an inclusive list, several options of places to upload or deposit your protocol can be found below.