Medicine, Mind and Adolescence 1999, XIV, 1-2


Colin Comfort1

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This article addresses several areas of controversy in meta-analysis and examines some of the key criticisms of it. The promise of meta-analysis is discussed including it’s history and benefits over the traditional literature review. Procedures of meta-analysis are outlined according to five stages and the major methodological controversies are identified. Finally, the key problems associated with meta-analysis are examined.
In general meta-analysis appears to have the potential of bringing increased rigor, objectivity, precision, and replicability to the research enterprise. Nevertheless, the procedures of meta-analysis require that the meta-analyst make many crucial judgements throughout. Meta-analysts have made strides in addressing the problems and criticisms associated with meta-analytic techniques and procedures but the methodology is still young and the consequences of many of the judgement calls remain unknown. Given the unabating popularity of meta-analysis as well as the sustained need for research synthesis, continued methodological advances should keep this technique vibrant.

Key Words:
Meta-analysis, Premises, Procedures, Benefits, Problems.

1. Correspondence to: Colin Comfort, Division of Applied Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 1N4.

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