What Is Meta-Analysis? Some Top Techniques and Examples

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Meta-Analysis

Research is a dynamic process involving various stages that need meticulous attention. Research is critical to propose a new intervention, explore cause and effect relationships and investigate any matter. You cannot propose or assume without evidence and evaluation on any research area. So, your research must follow sequential steps and consider feasibility to produce unbiased results. You use many research methods based on the kind of research area you are exploring. It ranges from conducting quantitative research using statistical analysis to making systematic or narrative reviews. One of the research methods that medical researchers often use to test the efficacy of a certain intervention is ‘Meta-analysis’.

What Is Meta-Analysis And Example?

Meta-analysis is a quantitative examination of results from separate original studies on the same subject. Its goal is to generate a quantitative evaluation of the examined phenomenon, such as the usefulness of therapy. Meta-analyses are more comprehensive and analytical than systematic or narrative reviews. This method, concerning conducting a review, includes a comparative measurement of how well a therapy works. It also estimates how probable someone is to get an ailment if they engage in a specific activity.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are critical methods for synthesising data that support treatment decisions and policymaking. For example, some studies may discover that a certain medicine reduces the chance of a heart attack. In contrast, others may discover that the drug has no impact. So the meta-analysis of the pooled data would show the estimated statistical significance.

What Methods Will You Use In Conducting A Meta-Analysis?

The following eight steps describe how to conduct a meta-analysis:

Formulate Your Research Question

When designing the research question, it is important to balance predictability and applicability. Identify regulators or integrators of an earlier disregarded relationship. A meta-analysis of business performance may look at the influence of multiple ways to assess business success. It may include focusing on expansion, revenue, survival rate, or inherent qualities of the entrepreneurs as regulators.

Literature Review

As you perform a common literature review, your search method for meta-analysis must focus on rigorous, repeatable and clear data collection process. It should culminate in a sample that contains all related studies. You must choose the studies you aim to include in the meta-analysis yourself. Several recommendations for literature reviews advocate restricting the sample to studies that are part of prestigious academic publications to guarantee the quality of results. You can also represent your inclusion and exclusion criteria through the PRISMA flow diagram. You can get help from masters dissertation writing services if you face any literature review issues.

Selection Of The Impact Size Metric

The two most popular meta-analytical impact size measurements in organisational studies are ‘z-transformed’ correlation values and standardised mean differences. For contrasting research, you can transform regression results and their coefficients to incomplete correlation coefficients depending on their t-statistics.

Selection Of A Method For Analysis

There are four primary meta-analysis methodologies you can employ in modern organisational research that allows for exploring various sorts of research questions. These include:

  • The standard univariate meta-analysis,
  • meta-regression,
  • meta-analytic structural equation modelling, and
  • qualitative meta-analysis.

You can use all these methods to analyse your data. The univariate technique is appropriate for assessing the final direction of a correlation and can act as a decent start for further meta-analysis. MASEM is a mix of meta-analysis and structural equation models that allows you to study the links between various components in a route model. A qualitative meta-analysis aims to combine qualitative data from published case studies.

Choose Software

Choose the most appropriate software by the intricacy of the procedures you use and the information itself. Stata (version 16 and onwards) is a business software supplier with built-in capabilities for doing different meta-analyses. It also helps to produce various graphs. A list of 63 meta-analysis packages is available for academics that use the open-source programme R (R Core Team 2021). Besides these, SPSS and SAS, as well as MS Excel templates, are also available.

Coding

The layout of the coding sheet is the initial stage in the coding stage. There is no such thing as a universal template since the layout of the coding sheet depends on the methodologies, the application you are using and the intricacy of the study design. Coding involves pooling data in the form of columns and rows.

Analysis

After limiting and adjusting for potential biases in studies in meta-analysis, meta-analysts must choose among two types of models tied to specific hypotheses: fixed-effects and random-effects. Fixed-effects’ models imply that all data have the same mean difference. Thus discrepancies are because of sampling errors. The random-effects model presumes diversity and allows for variances in genuine effect sizes between publications.

Results

Tables summarising findings from quantitative meta-analysis should contain all key data and statistical analysis. It may include mean effect sizes, error variance and margins of error, the data set and research publications. It also includes heterogeneity metrics. Your results should answer your research question. If there was a relationship between certain variables or not? Or, was there a positive or a negative relationship?

What Is The Difference Between Meta-Analysis And Systematic Review?

A systematic review seeks to address a specific research issue by gathering and synthesising all scientific data that meets predefined qualifying criteria. Meta-analysis uses statistical techniques to synthesise the findings of all such data. A systematic review is a qualitative method that reviews prior published data and analyses it critically. At the same time, a meta-analysis uses a quantitative approach to analyse published data.

Conclusion

Here are some top techniques and examples of using meta-analysis to conduct research. You refer to meta-analysis as the quantitative evaluation of data from various original investigations on the same issue. It is more thorough and analytical than systematic or narrative evaluations. Many medical, psychological and management researchers use this method to test the efficacy of an intervention. You can follow the eight steps above to conduct a meta-analysis for your specific research topic.

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