Step 2: Protocol

What is a protocol and why have one?

A review protocol outlines why and how you are going to conduct your systematic review. It should include your research question, background and the methods that will be used, including: search strategy, inclusion criteria, data extraction, quality assessment, data synthesis, and statistical analysis plan.

Having a pre-specified protocol improves the methodological transparency of your review and reduces the risk of introducing bias. Publishing your protocol allows others to locate reviews in progress and enables future replication. The process of putting together your protocol often involves communication between a number of key stakeholders, you may want to discuss it with an advisory group, external experts, or your funders.


SYRCLE (SYstematic Review Centre for Laboratory animal Experimentation) have developed a protocol template tailored to the preparation, registration and publication of systematic reviews of animal intervention studies.

It may also be useful to look through examples from the SyRF Protocol Registry while you formulate your protocol. Look at the Protocol Registry to check that no systematic reviews on your research question are currently underway. 


Publishing your protocol:

Submit your protocol to the SyRF Protocol Registry, select 'Publish Protocol' as your subject heading. You can also submit your protocol for publication in a peer-reviewed journal such as Evidence-based Preclinical Medicine.

We recommend that you include a statement in your protocol outlining how your research will impact the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) in animal use in research.  


References & Resources:

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination University of York, UK

Evidence-based Preclinical Medicine

SYRCLE (SYstematic Review Centre for Laboratory animal Experimentation)

SYRCLE protocol for animal intervention studies fillable (MS Word) format


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