The protocol is the plan or methodology of your scoping review. You need to develop your protocol at the beginning of the process, before you start your searches. You may refine your protocol as you progress through your review. The iterative nature of a scoping review may necessitate some changes.
According to the JBI Reviewer’s Manual (chapter 11.2), a scoping review protocol should include:
An introduction detailing:
Sample search strategy
Explanation of search approach, including:
Study selection process, including resolving disagreements between reviewers
A draft charting table/form for data extraction and accompanying explanation
How results and data will be presented (e.g. draft chart, figure or table)
Watch the video below, narrated by Dr Micah Peters, to learn about how to establish key inclusion criteria for a scoping review.
Video Length: 8:11
Other inclusion criteria may be introduced based on both necessity and sound rationale, and may either broaden or narrow the review. For instance:
For our example:
The field of nurse-led care in chronic disease is too broad for the allocated time, so the reviewer decides to limit the search to higher income countries only. She rationalises that health care in low to middle income countries can be affected by contextual factors, and these might act as confounders. This:
Eligibility criteria are also known as inclusion and exclusion criteria.
To identify the inclusion and exclusion criteria:
For our example:
Nurse-led models of care in the field of chronic disease management.
Primary review questions
|What nurse-led models of care are used to manage chronic disease?||Nurse-led models of care|
|What chronic diseases have been managed using nurse-led models?||Chronic disease|
Consult the following resources to learn how to write a gold standard scoping review protocol:
|Registering your protocol|
It is a good practice to register your protocol, as you do not want anyone else to do the exact same review you are doing.
Once registered, your protocol will have a unique registration number which can be cited in publications to link your planning documents to your completed review. This is recommended.
If you are working on a review for an organisation affiliated with JBI (Joanna Briggs Institute) - a 'JBI Collaboration Entity' - you can register the title of your review on their website.
You can make your protocol visible by uploading it to an open research repository such as those below:
PRISMA-ScR recommends that "if the protocol is not [made] publicly available, details about how to access it (for example, on request from the corresponding author) should be provided" (Tricco et al. 2018).
|Publishing your protocol|
You can publish your protocol in a dedicated systematic/scoping review or protocol journal:
Protocols for Cochrane and JBI reviews are published on their websites:
Many other journals will allow you to publish your protocol. You should also look for relevant journals within your discipline area.