Assembling a team with the necessary expertise, time, and ability to work well with other team members is essential. Preparing a detailed plan, or protocol, is an important step in initiating a systematic review.
|1-2||preparation of protocol|
|3-8||searches for published and unpublished studies|
pilot test of eligibility studies
|3||pilot test of risk of bias assessment|
|3||pilot test of data collection|
|5-11||follow up of missing information|
|1-11||preparation of review report|
|12-||keeping the review up-to-date|
Source: Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from www.cochrane-handbook.org.
A study which measured time requirements for systematic reviews not published with Cochrane found that the average time from start to finish is 1 year. The study includes analysis of major review tasks. For more information, view the following article:
Borah R, Brown AW, Capers PL, Kaiser KA. Analysis of the time and workers needed to conduct systematic reviews of medical interventions using data from the PROSPERO registry. BMJ open. 2017;7(2):e012545.
PICO is a mnemonic used to structure a clinical or research question.
For therapy/intervention questions: P- Patient/Problem/Population I- Intervention C- Comparison O- Outcome
For diagnosis questions: P- Patient I- Test C - Standard O- Outcome
For prognosis questions: P- Patient F- Factors O- Outcome
Protocols are used to pre-specify objectives and methods to help plan a systematic review or meta-analysis. A protocol should be developed prior to the formal literature search and may be required for publication.
Finding published systematic reviews on a related topic can help with identifying databases and resources to include, as well as search terms. The databases listed below are suggested for this purpose.