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Where to Publish a Systematic Review Protocol

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Before you start your systematic review, you are required to create a systematic review protocol, describing the logic behind the review and the systematic review methods you intend to use. This protocol will serve as your guide throughout the systematic review. Your protocol should be published and registered in a registry before you perform the systematic review. In this article, you’ll learn how and where to publish your systematic review protocol.

What Is a Systematic Review Protocol?

As mentioned above, a systematic review protocol is a manuscript that’s prepared before a systematic review begins, describing the rationale, proposition, and procedures to be followed during the review. This protocol will guide your systematic review, reducing the effect of bias and promoting transparency of the processes. The publication of a systematic review protocol before conducting the review also reduces the risk of duplication bias and gives your peers enough time to assess the effectiveness of your methods.

Studies have revealed that almost 85 percent of the investment in biomedical research goes to waste because most researchers ask the wrong questions, use incorrect research designs, report their research ineffectively, or fail to report it completely. Although the focus has always been on primary studies, systematic reviews have also been found to make the problem of wastage worse, since they summarize and synthesize results from primary studies. If a systematic review included studies of low quality, its quality and impact are also compromised.

To avoid these problems, your systematic reviews have to be performed according to a predefined protocol. If you don’t follow a protocol, the flaws in your research will be easily identified during quality appraisal.

But what is quality appraisal of systematic review? An appraisal is the evaluation of your systematic review to ensure it’s credible, unbiased, and useful. The appraisal process also checks whether or not the systematic review followed a protocol, ensuring that the decisions made during the study weren’t made arbitrarily.

Further, a systematic review protocol ensures that efforts aren’t being wasted because different groups of reviewers don’t know what others are doing. This also makes the reproducibility of systematic reviews in the future possible. That’s why systematic reviews that don’t follow protocols are highly prone to duplication. Even a living systematic review needs to follow a protocol so that you have a clearly defined method of incorporating new evidence as it becomes available. The inclusion and exclusion criteria stated in the protocol determine the addition of newly available studies in the systematic review.

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Where to Publish Your Systematic Review Protocol

With a published systematic review protocol, you’ll save a lot of time because you know where to find it when necessary. Your efficiency while conducting a systematic review depends on how easily accessible and modifiable your protocol is. Published protocols also serve as a guide for other researchers who do not have time to come up with their own protocols from scratch. Here are some of the best places to publish your systematic review protocols.

Protocol Online

Protocol Online offers life science protocols created by researchers, laboratories, and suppliers from all over the world. This database was developed by POL Scientific, a company that publishes scientific journals. Protocols in this database are divided into various categories and subcategories for quick access. It also offers features to help you find your preferred protocols quickly.

Nature Protocols

Nature Protocols offers two separate databases that are available online. Its protocols aren’t free, but there are several sponsored protocols that you can access for free. All its protocols are rigorously reviewed by peers and have to be approved before publishing. Nature Protocols also includes another database called Protocol Exchange, where users are free to upload protocols related to life science. Since this is an open-source database, you won’t be charged anything to upload or download protocols.

Springer Protocols

Springer Protocols is a database of various protocols divided into several categories. You have to pay a subscription fee to access these protocols. However, Springer has a free protocol library where it offers 150 free protocols. All protocols in this database are reviewed by editors who are experts in their respective fields of study.

Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)

JoVE publishes visual experiments like videos, and images that are reviewed by peers. The rationale behind this journal is to provide practical methods to increase the replication of protocols. It also reduces the amount of time spent by scientists learning different techniques because they can understand protocols visually.

Finally, these and other online tools will help you publish your systematic review protocols easily. When publishing your protocols, make sure to add the protocol authors, and make the status of your protocol known. It is also required that you mark your protocols as research or non-research processes. Lastly, remember to associate your systematic review protocols with relevant groups whenever necessary.

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