High-quality systematic reviews start with good design and careful planning. It is not possible to eliminate bias, but by prespecifying methods in a protocol, the risk of bias can be minimised. A publicly available protocol also provides transparency in the process. Systematic reviewing is an iterative process, so subsequent deviations and changes from what was planned may be inevitable but should be recorded and justified at the stage of review when they occur. Such transparency in conduct and reporting enables those using systematic review findings to judge the quality of a review and assess for themselves the potential impact of any changes from the initial protocol. In this chapter we discuss the value of systematic review protocol registration and focus on PROSPERO, an open register designed specifically for prospective registration of systematic reviews. Examples from PROSPERO are used to illustrate considerations specific to systematic review of diagnostic test accuracy studies.
KeywordsProtocol Registration Bias Transparency
The authors would like to thank the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, the producers of PROSPERO, for permission to base this chapter on information provided on the register website. We are also grateful to Dr. Nick Meader for his advice and peer comments on the draft.
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