Protocol registration issues of systematic review and meta-analysis studies: a survey of global researchers

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

BMC medical research methodology


BACKGROUND: Although protocol registration of systematic reviews/meta-analysis (SR/MA) is still not mandatory, it is highly recommended that authors publish their SR/MA protocols prior to submitting their manuscripts for publication as recommended by the Cochrane guidelines for conducting SR/MAs. our aim was to assess the awareness, obstacles, and opinions of SR/MA authors about the protocol registration process.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey study included the authors who published SR/MAs during the period from 2010 to 2016, and they were contacted for participation in our survey study. They were identified through the literature search of SR/MAs in Scopus database. An online questionnaire was sent to each participant via e-mail after receiving their approval to join the study. We have sent 6650 emails and received 275 responses.

RESULTS: A total of 270 authors responses were complete and included in the final analysis. Our results has shown that PROSPERO was the most common database used for protocol registration (71.3%). The registration-to-acceptance time interval in PROSPERO was less than 1 month (99.1%). Almost half of the authors (44.2%) did not register their protocols prior to publishing their SR/MAs and according to their opinion that the other authors lack knowledge of protocol importance and mandance to be registered, was the most commonly reported reason (44.9%). A significant percenatge of respondents (37.4%) believed that people would steal their ideas from protocol databases, while only 5.3% reported that their SR/MA had been stolen. However, the majority (72.9%) of participants have agreed that protocol registries play a role in preventing unnecessary duplication of reviews. Finally, 37.4% of participants agree that SR/MA protocol registration should be mandatory.

CONCLUSION: About half of the participants believes that the main reason for not registering protocols, is that the other authors lack knowledge concerning obligation and importance to register the SR/MA protocols in advance. Therefore, tools should be available to mandate protocol registration of any SRs beforehand and increasing awareness about the benefits of protocol registration among researchers.

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page