Conceptual Issues in Research Synthesis


In its short history meta-analysis has been the object of both high praise and pointed criticism. This paper explores the conceptual bases of the controversy. Meta-analytic and traditional research reviews are compared on 4 dimensions: scientific rigor, detecting small effects, problems of oversimplification, and potential policy impact. It is argued that choice of procedures should be determined by the specific purpose of a review rather than by canon. The author cites the benefits of viewing meta-analysis as a flexible arsenal of quantitative tools rather than a unitary method. Several future goals for the developing science of research synthesis are discussed.

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Journal of Special Education


Sage Publications

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