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meta-analysisa method by which the results of a number of quantitative studies can be analysed together to produce an overall impression from a field of research. This method lays emphasis on EFFECT SIZE as well as providing a SIGNIFICANCE TEST for the results. It has advantages over a conventional review in that it forces the analyst to evaluate the method and the results of a study more critically and that it provides an objective method for synthesizing the results from such studies. There are two basic approaches to meta-analysis. The first and most common approach involves combining the results from the studies in order to produce a single effect size, inferential statistic and probability. The second approach involves comparing studies which differ over some aspect of their method to see if the results of studies which utilized one design or measure differ from the results of studies employing a different design or method. By combining the results of a number of studies, meta-analysis can circumvent the problems of low STATISTICAL POWER which may characterize the individual studies. (See Cooper; 1998; Cooper and Hedges, 1994; Rosenthal, 1991)
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000