Literature Search/Review Protocol Template

I thought I would share something I have developed for my library users. It is not an original idea by any means – based upon ideas I have picked up along the way by some of the great minds of evidence-based-practice such as Andrew Booth, Trish Greenhalgh, Alison Brettle, Lyn Robinson the folks within LIHNN and many, many, many more people whose work has helped develop my skills. Hopefully it is of interest to both library-folk and students.


  • What are the areas you are looking at? i.e. specific topics or aspects of a particular topic. This can be a question or area of interest.

The Search

Study Types

  • Are you focusing on a particular study type? Or want to avoid particular studies? Think about your ‘research problem’ and your own methodology if struggling

Population Types

  • Are you looking at a particular section of the population? By age? Gender? Ethncity? Nationality?


  • What are you looking for? Barriers? Factors? Service to improve?


  • Are you comparing to something (another treatment/service)? There’s not always a comparison to have remember…

Outcome Measures

  • Are you looking for a solution to your intervention? If so what?


  • Geographical limit? UK only? BE CAREFUL NOT TO LIMIT YOURSELF


  • What other limits? How far back are you going? What Languages? Etc. etc.

Search Strategy


  • What databases are knowledge resources are you going to use? Do you know any experts in this field you can call on for signposting guidance? Can you access grey literature?


  • What search ‘keywords’ are you going to use? Have you thought about all possible terms for your keywords of choice? Beware the perils of keyword ‘americanisation’! Decide on each keyword (and likely other terms) and lay out on separate lines.
  • Of your keywords how many must an item have to be included?

The Review

Method of Review

  • What method of review are you using? Scoping? Narrative? Systematic?

Quality Assessment

  • What type of assessment will you be using? If you are looking at qualitative and quantitative research do you have assessment tools for both?

Data Extraction/Data Synthesis

  • How are you going to extract your data? What tools or templates are you going to use? Are you going to use synthesis software? If so – which one & why?


  • When shall you be finished by?

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