‘The statistical analysis of a large collection of analysis results from individual studies for the purpose of integrating the findings.”
Although this definition about it was referring to the field of social sciences at that time, the term also relates to other fields.
To define it in other words, it is a quantitative method of combining results from independent studies and synthesizing conclusions which may be used to evaluate therapeutic effectiveness.
The basic purpose of such analysis is to provide the same strictness to a literature review that an experimental research does. We refer to direct investigations in research as primary research. Providing a report on primary research using statistical data is called ‘quantitative syntheses or ‘meta-analysis’. Generally this type of study is centered between one explanatory and one response variable.
There has been a major increase in studies in this field of research in the recent years. That has mainly been seen in the field of medicine as there has been a greater emphasis on evidence based research and the need for reliable summaries.
This is also one of the most easily applicable research methods if the researcher makes use of popular computer databases.
There are several reasons why it is undertaken so seriously in the field of medicine:
The most popularly used of its type is the quantitative literature reviews. This is where the authors try to select a research finding or effect that has been investigated in primary research under many different circumstances.
Recently another way has been developed because of the popularly of this research type that consists of meta-analytical summaries within primary research paper.
Below mentioned are some of the critical views that this study method is subjected to:
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