Skip to Main Content

University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Literature Reviews in Medicine and Health

Overview of types of literature reviews

What is a Prorcol?

A review protocol provides the rationale, hypothesis or goal or questions, and methods for a literature review. It can be registered before the review begins. Protocols are typically developed for systematic and scoping reviews. They are not commonly seen for narrative or integrative revie

If you have a specific target journal in mind, refer to their author instructions to see if registration of a protocol is a required.


Elements of a protocol

  • Team members
  • Background literature, objectives and rationale
  • Review  Question
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Databases and keywords and/or search terms
  • Search strategies
  • Study selection screening
  • Methods for data extraction and assessment
  • Data synthesis
  • Timeframe
  • PRISMA  - evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • PRISMA Extensions - Several extensions of the PRISMA Statement have been developed to facilitate the reporting of different types or aspects of systematic reviews.
  • Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions
  • SQUIRE 2.0 - Revised Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence 

Protocol - Eligibility Criteria

Consider study parameters:

  • inclusive years
  • language(s)
  • publication/study types

Inclusion Criteria - elements must be included in the publication in order to be considered for the literature review

  • specific comparisons such as treatment or diagnostics
  • experimental, observational, both
  • publication type (RCT, etc.)
  • population characteristics (older adults, women, etc.)

Exclusion Criteria - elements that would disqualify the publication for the literature review

  • qualitative instead of quantitative methodology
  • study design (case study)
  • publication type (letter, review article)
  • non-English