Before embarking on a systematic review, researchers and funders scan the field to see if other reviews have been completed or are in progress and if there is a need for a new review [3, 4]. Unfortunately, because many individual groups do not post their intentions of conducting a systematic review or the review protocol, the EPC Program has started a review only to have one on the same topic and scope be published shortly after.
In order to be useful, protocol registration needs to reach a tipping point where it becomes the norm. However, outside of those required by funders or journal editors, most reviews are not registered because of perceived burdens or barriers or a lack of a centralized registration process. We provide some arguments to the contrary below.
There is no easy way to make my systematic review protocol available to the public. Not everyone has their own website like the AHRQ EPC program.
In 2011, the National Institute of Health Research launched PROSPERO , an international prospective register of systematic reviews that is freely available to all .
It doesn't benefit my team or me and, in fact, my ideas may get scooped.
As described above, there is actually a great need and demand for systematic reviews by health care decision makers, guideline developers and other groups. Registration of the protocol may alert guideline groups that a related review is being conducted and provide opportunities for collaboration with partners for implementing the results of the review. Far from encouraging others to conduct a review on the same topic, protocol registration may be analogous to 'staking a claim' on a topic and be more likely to reduce duplication and competition on a topic by others and save scarce resources.
It takes too much time to develop a protocol and it only helps other reviewers.
Although protocols take time to develop, they are especially important when a review is conducted by more than one person to reduce confusion and ensure that all investigators are working from the same work plan. Without having understood the scope and methods up front, projects risk later wasted effort resulting from miscommunication, confusion or unintended bias. Posting of a protocol also enhances confidence in the resulting report. By determining methods a priori and reporting transparently, reviewers will find that end-users have greater trust that the report was not changed to suit the preference of the authors.