A meta-analysis is a powerful statistical procedure for combining and comparing data from multiple studies that have all tested a particular hypothesis with the objective of identifying patterns among the results. The meta-analysis can then be used for a variety of purposes:
Publication of Systematic Reviews: How effective is a particular treatment? Are there differences between 2 groups? Is there a relationship between any of the variables? Many journals nowadays are encouraging the replacement of the traditional narrative reviews with articles that review the body of evidence on a specific question (systematic reviews).
Master’s and PhD Thesis preparation: A meta-analysis will strengthen and support the thesis findings.
Grant Applications: To justify the necessity and potential utility of a new study. Funding agencies often request a meta-analysis of current research as a part of the application for a new research grant.
Project planning: Help identify questions that have already been answered, and those that remain to be answered.
Many researchers find the prospect of planning and carrying out a meta-analysis or publishing a systematic review an extremely daunting task, and the meta-analysis itself is often very demanding and labor intensive. The necessary steps include:
- Defining the research question
- Determining inclusion and exclusion criteria
- Selecting and coding primary studies
- Computing and aggregating effect sizes
- Assessing heterogeneity
- Testing moderators (or predictors)
- Evaluating publication bias
- Reporting findings
Most researchers will need to seek expert advice at different stages of the meta-analysis. Our editors have extensive experience in designing and performing meta-analyses, and in the publication of systematic reviews. We will provide consultation and advice at all stages and can specifically tailor the service to suit your individual requirements. Contact us today for more information, or if you have any comments or suggestions.