According to PRISMA, "a systematic review protocol describes the rationale, hypothesis, and planned methods of the review".
It is important to write a protocol for any type of review to set the framework for the study. However rapid review protocols are often written as internal documents for organisations and are often not published or registered. Registration is still recommended if the review is to be published.
A protocol will help:
This should be the last stage of the planning exercise once the topic is worked out and tested and the inclusion and exclusion criteria is determined.
There are a number of guides on how to write protocols. Check any specific guidelines relevant to the discipline to see whether they provide guidelines for protocols as well as reviews.
It is a good idea to register the protocol in a publicly accessible way as this will also help avoid other people starting a review on the same topic.
Protocol registry sites
Journals publishing protocols
Below are some examples of journals that publish protocols. Check the aims, scope and author guidelines for journals to find more.
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