A CALL FOR CAUTIOUS INTERPRETATION OF META-ANALYTIC REVIEWS
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 October 2020
Meta-analytic reviews collect available empirical studies on a specified domain and calculate the average effect of a factor. Educators as well as researchers exploring a new domain of inquiry may rely on the conclusions from meta-analytic reviews rather than reading multiple primary studies. This article calls for caution in this regard because the outcome of a meta-analysis is determined by how effect sizes are calculated, how factors are defined, and how studies are selected for inclusion. Three recently published meta-analyses are reexamined to illustrate these issues. The first illustrates the risk of conflating effect sizes from studies with different design features; the second illustrates problems with delineating the variable of interest, with implications for cause-effect relations; and the third illustrates the challenge of determining the eligibility of candidate studies. Replication attempts yield outcomes that differ from the three original meta-analyses, suggesting also that conclusions drawn from meta-analyses need to be interpreted cautiously.
- Research Article
- Open Practices
- Open data
- © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press