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Systematic Reviews: a Practical Guide


Developing your protocol

Having created a basic protocol, you will need to develop it into an effective search strategy. Take a look at our Searching for information guide for more help; not least:

Medical research example


In medicine and health sciences you could use the PICO method to develop your research question, identifying the population of a study (P) and the intervention in question (I), plus a comparator (C) and the outcomes (O) for your research where relevant. If you are doing an intervention review then PICO may be suitable, but for other types of review, other frameworks or tools may be more appropriate. You can find more information about PICO on the the HYMS Skills Tutorials page.

It is very important to define clearly which kind of studies will be included in your review before starting the search. Doing this will help you to establish clear exclusion and inclusion criteria for your review and allow you to save time and effort.

You should check that your review has not already been done or that there is one currently in progress.

Medical research example

For health reviews check CDSR, DARE, and PROSPERO — see the links below. It is also advisable to add your final protocol to PROSPERO so you can cite it and others can be aware of your ongoing research.