Reference Resources iconReview Protocols

What Works ClearinghouseTM (WWC) reviews are designed to provide education practitioners and policymakers with timely and objective assessments of the quality of research evidence. WWC reviews focus primarily on studies of the effectiveness of education or school-based interventions serving students in early childhood education through 12th grade, as well as students in postsecondary settings. However, in some instances, they might focus on studies of interventions serving other groups, such as teachers or other school leaders.

All WWC reviews are governed by a review protocol that describes the procedures that will be followed when conducting the review. When a study has been identified through a literature search defined by a WWC protocol, such as a topic area protocol for preparing WWC intervention reports or a protocol for preparing a WWC practice guide, the study review is guided by that protocol. However, the WWC also reviews studies that have been identified through other means and that may not fall under the umbrella of a more specific review protocol. The version 3.1 and 4.0 protocols guide such reviews of individual studies. These review-specific protocols are used in conjunction with version 3.0 and version 4.0 of the WWC Procedures and Standards Handbooks, respectively.

Protocol Details

  • Version: 4.0
  • Released: May 2019
  • Version: 3.1
  • Released: April 2020
  • Version: 3.0
  • Released: May 2016

What is a Protocol?

A review protocol defines the scope of a systematic review. Developed with substantive experts, the protocol defines the parameters for the review, including the research, populations, settings, and outcomes. The protocol also specifies details of the literature search and any topic-specific applications of the design standards.

Protocol versions reflect the version of WWC standards in effect when the protocol was released. Protocol versions that predate the current version of the WWC standards handbook can be used to identify acceptable outcome domains for review within a given topic. The current WWC standards are used to guide the review of studies with acceptable outcomes.

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