A protocol outlines your plan or the steps that will be followed in conducting your synthesis and are most commonly developed for systematic reviews, meta-analyses, mixed-method reviews or scoping reviews. In addition to increasing transparency in the review process, registering your protocol informs the research community that your group intends to conduct a review on a particular topic.
Many published syntheses do not report if a protocol was registered or published ahead of time, however, reviews conducted under the auspices of international collaborations require reviewers to register new titles and develop a protocol. Instructions for reviewers along with protocol registries and examples can be found below for the collaborations listed and for systematic reviews conducted independent of these organizations.
Examples of review protocols:
Registered protocol in PROSERO: Zhang, Q., Yue, J., Zeng, X., Sun, Z., & Golianu, B. (2016). Acupuncture for chronic neck pain: a systematic review. PROSPERO 2015:CRD42015017178.
Published protocol in BioMed Central: Zhang, Q., Yue, J., Zeng, X., Sun, Z., & Golianu, B. (2016). Acupuncture for chronic neck pain: a protocol for an updated systematic review. Systematic Reviews, 5(1), 1.
Sheach-Leith, V., & Stephen, A. I. (2016). The experiences and support needs of adult family members who face a sudden adult death: a qualitative systematic review protocol. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, 14(2), 93-105.
O'Brien, T. D., Noyes, J., Spencer, L. H., Kubis, H. P., Hastings, R. P., Edwards, R. T., ... & Whitaker, R. (2014). ‘Keep fit’exercise interventions to improve health, fitness and well‐being of children and young people who use wheelchairs: mixed‐method systematic review protocol. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(12), 2942-2951.