Research increasingly seeks not only to generate knowledge, but also to have impact. In this context, traditional academic definitions of research quality may be insufficient. This article presents a protocol for the systematic review of new and emerging definitions, criteria and indicators of research quality in applied, inter- and transdisciplinary contexts. It seeks to clarify arguments for or against expanding the definitions of research quality and to identify appropriate definitions and measures, with an emphasis on natural resource management research. The primary research question is: What are appropriate criteria and indicators for defining and measuring the quality of transdisciplinary research in natural resource management research? The proposed review will be based on literature sourced from a search of Scopus, Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar. The search terms and strings to be used were developed and tested iteratively, based on a benchmark set of references and incrementally refined searches designed to be comprehensive and to reduce irrelevant results. To select relevant articles, two reviewers will independently perform three rounds of screening by scanning (1) titles, (2) abstracts and (3) articles. The articles selected will then be reviewed for the following: arguments for or against expanding definitions of research quality; purposes for research quality evaluation; proposed principles of research quality; proposed criteria for research quality assessment; proposed indicators and measures of research quality; and proposed processes for evaluating transdisciplinary research. The results will be synthesized to provide an overview of the literature, to summarize the arguments and approaches for expanding definitions of research quality, and to identify and discuss the main purposes, principles, indicators and measures of research quality in transdisciplinary and applied contexts.