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Open Access Methodology

The nuts and bolts of PROSPERO: an international prospective register of systematic reviews

Alison Booth1*, Mike Clarke2, Gordon Dooley3, Davina Ghersi4, David Moher56, Mark Petticrew7 and Lesley Stewart1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, Alcuin B Block, Heslington, York, UK, YO10 5DD

2 Centre for Public Health, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Block B, Queen's University Belfast, Royal Victoria Hospital, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, UK, BT12 6BA

3 Metaxis Ltd, Elmbank Offices, Elmbank Court, Main Road, Curbridge, Oxford, UK, OX29 7NT

4 Research Translation Branch, National Health & Medical Research Council, 16 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra City ACT 2600, Australia

5 Department of Epidemiology, Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, 725 Parkdale Avenue Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1Y 4E9

6 Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1H 8M5

7 Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, UK WC1E 7HT

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Systematic Reviews 2012, 1:2  doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-2

Published: 9 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Following publication of the PRISMA statement, the UK Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) at the University of York in England began to develop an international prospective register of systematic reviews with health-related outcomes. The objectives were to reduce unplanned duplication of reviews and provide transparency in the review process, with the aim of minimizing reporting bias.

Methods

An international advisory group was formed and a consultation undertaken to establish the key items necessary for inclusion in the register and to gather views on various aspects of functionality. This article describes the development of the register, now called PROSPERO, and the process of registration.

Results

PROSPERO offers free registration and free public access to a unique prospective register of systematic reviews across all areas of health from all around the world. The dedicated web-based interface is electronically searchable and available to all prospective registrants. At the moment, inclusion in PROSPERO is restricted to systematic reviews of the effects of interventions and strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor health conditions, for which there is a health-related outcome.

Ideally, registration should take place before the researchers have started formal screening against inclusion criteria but reviews are eligible as long as they have not progressed beyond the point of completing data extraction.

The required dataset captures the key attributes of review design as well as the administrative details necessary for registration.

Submitted registration forms are checked against the scope for inclusion in PROSPERO and for clarity of content before being made publicly available on the register, rejected, or returned to the applicant for clarification.

The public records include an audit trail of major changes to planned methods, details of when the review has been completed, and links to resulting publications when provided by the authors.

Conclusions

There has been international support and an enthusiastic response to the principle of prospective registration of protocols for systematic reviews and to the development of PROSPERO.

In October 2011, PROSPERO contained 200 records of systematic reviews being undertaken in 26 countries around the world on a diverse range of interventions.

Keywords:
Systematic review protocol; register; PROSPERO