PROSPERO, which is led by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York, is the first open access online facility to prospectively register systematic reviews of the effects of interventions used in health and social care from around the world. Registration is web-based, free and open to all researchers planning to conduct a systematic review.
Systematic reviews are widely accepted as providing the best quality evidence to support decision making in health and social care for policy and practice. They are valued by decision-makers because, when well conducted, they provide the most reliable estimates about the effects of health care interventions.
The register is designed to avoid the duplication of health research and will act as a guard against selective reporting of research when findings differ from what was originally expected.
Professor Lesley Stewart, Director of the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, said: “The register will increase transparency and guard against selective reporting; making it obvious if the research that is published differs from what was planned at the outset.”
“Also, by providing information about reviews in progress, PROSPERO should also reduce unplanned duplication and encourage greater information sharing and collaboration worldwide.”
“We have been extremely pleased by the enthusiastic international response to the development of PROSPERO, and also that our own National Institute for Health Research is to make registration a requirement for all its grant holders undertaking relevant systematic reviews.”
Lord Howe said: “The National Institute for Health Research is committed to providing the best possible evidence to inform decisions and choices for health and social care.”
“I am therefore delighted that the NIHR is leading the international research community by making registration a requirement for all those researchers it commissions to undertake systematic reviews.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Director General of Research and Development at the Department of Health said: “We are supporting the development of PROSPERO because we think it’s important to establish mechanisms that guarantee integrity and maintain quality standards.”
Welcoming the international focus of the new initiative, Dame Sally said: “Duplication of systematic reviews is common place and it is increasingly important that knowledge is shared efficiently to maximise the use of available research resources worldwide.”