Systematic Reviews & Meta-analyses: Guidelines
& Protocols

Guidance on conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Choosing and Developing Your Protocol

Recommended: Now that you have your research question/s and your eligibility criteria, the next step is to design your systematic review study protocol. For developing your own protocol, our recommendation is to identify an established guideline or a specific protocol related to your field or topic of inquiry, and use it directly or revise it as needed. Once you have designed your protocol or selected an established protocol and made notes regarding specifics for your study, the next best practice step is to: (1) register your study in PROSPERO and/or (2) publish your protocol and description of your study plan with information about any revisions to major guidelines chosen or development of unique components.

PROSPERO is an excellent option for viewing existing protocols and for registering your study. It is used by Cochrane systematic review teams and others. TIP: It's always a good idea to search PROSPERO and databases in your field for in-process or recently published systematic reviews before starting your study - to ensure it's not already being done by another team! 

Below find links to: Commonly Used Protocols or Guidelines and ​Resources for Revising Existing Major Guildeines (such as PRISMA)


PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews & Meta-Analyses)
  • PRISMA Checklist
  • PRISMA Flow Diagram
  • PRISMA Statement
  • PRISMA Statement - Explanation & Elaboration Document

Institute Of Medicine (IOM)

Revising a Protocol? Here are resources for revising existing major guidelines (such as PRISMA)

EQUATOR Network (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research)

  • Recommends reporting guidelines based on the type of study being conducted
  • Provides practical tips for writing and reporting on your research (toolkits)


Consultation Options

Save time and get assistance in developing your study! Meet with a systematic review consulting librarian about the overall process, funding proposal considerations, protocol options, information sources, search methodology, and tools. If you are researching a discipline we are not familiar with, we will also connect you with a subject librarian in that area to locate appropriate sources to search, develop comprehensive search statements, and access materials not readily available.

Request a consultation

  • Email:
  • In your email, let us know: (1) your current project research focus, planning stage, timeline, and goals and (2) 2-3 meting times that would work well for you during the next 2 weeks.

Systematic Review consulting librarians

  • Cozette Comer, Evidence Synthesis Librarian, 
  • Kiri DeBose, Head, Veterinary Medicine Library & Liaison to Animal Sciences,
  • Ginny Pannabecker, Liaison Librarian to life sciences areas; Assoc. Director, Research Collaboration and Engagement,