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Review Preparation & Planning


The goal of the systematic review planning stage is to define the review research questions and the methods that will be used to answer those questions.


If you are planning a review from scratch, or as part of a joint project with a software company, planning will involve:

  • Justifying the need for the review.
  • Specifying the research question(s).
  • Preparing the review protocol.
  • Evaluating the review protocol.

If you are undertaking a commissioned review, the need for the review and the research questions will have been agreed with the commissioning body. You will need to:

  • Prepare a formal review protocol.
  • Evaluate the review protocol.


The outputs of the planning stage are:

  1. The review research questions as specified in the review protocol.
  2. The review protocol itself together with its publication date and how it can be accessed.
  3. The knowledge gained by the review team from trialling the specified review methods. This point is not always emphasized, but such knowledge is always useful, particularly for systematic reviews performed by large review teams.

This page was updated in July 2023.