Background: Increasing interest in upper extremity biomechanics has led to closer investigations of both segment movements and detailed joint motion. Unfortunately, conceptual and practical differences in the motion analysis protocols used up to date reduce compatibility for post data and cross validation analysis and so weaken the body of knowledge. This difficulty highlights a need for standardised protocols, each addressing a set of questions of comparable content. The aim of this work is therefore to open a discussion and propose a flexible framework to support: (1) the definition of standardised protocols, (2) a standardised description of these protocols, and (3) the formulation of general recommendations. Methods: Proposal of a framework for the definition of standardized protocols. Findings: The framework is composed by two nested flowcharts. The first defines what a motion analysis protocol is by pointing out its role in a motion analysis study. The second flowchart describes the steps to build a protocol, which requires decisions on the joints or segments to be investigated and the description of their mechanical equivalent model, the definition of the anatomical or functional coordinate frames, the choice of marker or sensor configuration and the validity of their use, the definition of the activities to be measured and the refinements that can be applied to the final measurements. Finally, general recommendations are proposed for each of the steps based on the current literature, and open issues are highlighted for future investigation and standardisation. Interpretation: Standardisation of motion analysis protocols is urgent. The proposed framework can guide this process through the rationalisation of the approach. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.