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Shimberg Health Sciences Library & Florida Blue Health Knowledge Exchange

Evidence Synthesis / Systematic Reviews

Establish eligibility criteria. Make a detailed plan, including rationale. Register your protocol.

Establish Eligibility Criteria

  • Predefined criteria for including and excluding studies in the review  
  • May include participants, interventions and comparisons, study design, publication dates, or publication type 
  • Ensures that all members of the team know what to look for in each study
  • Reduces bias in the screening 
  • Test on a small set of articles to validate criteria prior to screening (interrater reliability)

Make a Detailed Plan

The review protocol sets out the rationale and methods to be used in the review and provides a plan for your work. 

The protocol should include:

  • Search question or objective
  • Inclusion/exclusion criteria (scope including types of studies, participants, interventions)
  • Databases to be searched
  • Proposed search strategy
  • Methods and tools for data extraction and analysis
  • Declaration of interests
  • Time-frame


Register your Protocol

Consider registering your protocol. Registration helps to promote transparency in the review process and also reduces the potential for duplication.

Many journals require SRs to have registered protocols PRIOR to beginning the screening stage. Check the author guidelines section of prospective journals. 


Use PROSPERO to register systematic review protocols. Note: they will not accept protocols for most other review types.

Open Science Framework (OSF)

Open Science Framework accepts Systematic review protocols and other review protocols including scoping, integrative, and rapid.