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Where to Publish Systematic Review Protocol

About 80% of the clients we assist with systematic reviews often do not publish or register a systematic review protocol. Only 20% of them do, which is the recommended approach. Before discussing where to publish or register a systematic review protocol, I would like to clarify a few things.

Based on my experience as a seasoned systematic reviewer, there are three main reasons why you should publish a systematic review protocol.

The first reason is that by publishing your review, you inform others who may be interested in conducting the same review that it is already in progress. This eliminates the need for duplication of efforts.

The second reason is that by prospectively registering a systematic review through a protocol, you declare the methods you will use in advance. This includes specifying the outcomes you will focus on and the databases you will search, among other details. For instance, deviating from the initially declared databases would compromise the systematic nature of the review. Similarly, selectively reporting positive and significant outcomes, contrary to the prospective declaration, would introduce bias into the review.

Lastly, in my experience, if you want to publish a systematic review in a reputable academic journal, having a prospectively registered systematic review protocol enhances your credibility. This is because pre-planned methods often result in a rigorously conducted systematic review that meets the standards of prestigious academic journals.

Furthermore, I needed to conduct a systematic review for a public body in the United Kingdom. They required a systematic review protocol to determine the resources needed for the research process, including access to databases and other automation tools used in various phases, such as screening and data extraction.

Now that we understand the importance of a systematic review protocol, let’s explore some of the places where you can publish one.

Where to Publish Systematic Review Protocol


There is one platform commonly used by researchers to prospectively register systematic review protocols: PROSPERO. Before I discuss other options, let me provide some experiential comments about this registry.

Since its founding in 2011, PROSPERO has remained a cornerstone for registering systematic review protocols, particularly in healthcare sciences. One aspect I appreciate about PROSPERO is that, upon registering your review on their platform, there is sometimes no need for a manual review for publication. Instead, they have an automated system in place that publishes your protocol. You may need to wait for a maximum of 30 days to see your protocol appear online.

Unlike other protocol registries, PROSPERO is completely free of charge. Anyone undertaking a systematic review in healthcare sciences can publish a protocol here without any cost. This is likely because it is funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research. However, since UK citizens’ taxes maintain it, it prioritizes protocols by UK citizens. Nevertheless, individuals from anywhere in the world can also publish their protocols.

Another advantage offered by PROSPERO is that it rejects protocols that are similar to those already published on the platform, ensuring that your efforts are not duplicated.

However, please note that student systematic reviews, such as systematic review dissertations, do not require a protocol, and hence PROSPERO does not accept them. Additionally, PROSPERO only accepts systematic reviews in healthcare sciences.

Other Protocol Registries

Apart from PROSPERO, you can also publish your protocol on the following registries: INPLASY and the Registry of Systematic Reviews/Meta-Analyses in Research Registry.

The Registry of Systematic Reviews/Meta-Analyses in Research Registry has been in operation since around 2015 and has already published approximately 1600 protocols as of March 2024. In terms of age, it is the second oldest registry, with PROSPERO being the first (established in 2011). As a result, PROSPERO has published over 55,000 protocols. To register a protocol on the Registry of Systematic Reviews/Meta-Analyses in Research Registry, you will be required to pay £99, making it the most expensive option.

On the other hand, INPLASY is a relatively new platform that commenced its operations in 2020, but it has made significant progress so far. As of March 2024, they have already published over 1000 protocols. Despite being new, what I appreciate about INPLASY is that once your protocol is accepted, they assign it an INPLASY number and a DOI (digital object identifier). This simplifies the process of citing your protocol for others. However, there is a publication fee of $20 associated with INPLASY.

Final Words:

There are three registries where you can publish your systematic review protocol in advance. The most common and free option is PROSPERO. Based on my experience, approximately 90% of our clients who publish their protocols choose PROSPERO, likely because it is free and offers many advantages. However, there may be certain situations where you might prefer to publish on INPLASY or the Registry of Systematic Reviews/Meta-Analyses in Research Registry. For instance, I once had to select the Registry of Systematic Reviews/Meta-Analyses in Research Registry for faster approval because PROSPERO was giving priority to UK citizens, while my client was an international non-UK citizen. This allowed me to proceed with the main systematic review more promptly.

If you’re interested in publishing a systematic review protocol, SystematicReviewPro can assist you in writing a high-quality protocol. We ensure that the methods outlined in the protocol are feasible. Additionally, after drafting the protocol for you, we can help facilitate its publication on one of these registries based on your preferences. To proceed, you can place a free inquiry or order now using one of the buttons below.


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