Applied Meta-Analysis for Social Science Research

Noel A. Card

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July 18, 2011
ISBN 9781609184995
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377 Pages
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377 Pages
Size: 6⅛" x 9¼"
August 16, 2011
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377 Pages
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Offering pragmatic guidance for planning and conducting a meta-analytic review, this book is written in an engaging, nontechnical style that makes it ideal for graduate course use or self-study. The author shows how to identify questions that can be answered using meta-analysis, retrieve both published and unpublished studies, create a coding manual, use traditional and unique effect size indices, and write a meta-analytic review. An ongoing example illustrates meta-analytic techniques. In addition to the fundamentals, the book discusses more advanced topics, such as artifact correction, random- and mixed-effects models, structural equation representations, and multivariate procedures. User-friendly features include annotated equations; discussions of alternative approaches; and “Practical Matters” sections that give advice on topics not often discussed in other books, such as linking meta-analytic results with theory and the utility of meta-analysis software programs.

This title is part of the Methodology in the Social Sciences Series, edited by Todd D. Little, PhD.

“Card's book is written in a nontechnical style that would work well in a graduate course, or it could be used by someone who is just learning meta-analysis. Card takes the reader through the multiple steps in creating a meta-analytic study, such as retrieving studies, creating a coding manual, and using effect size indices, as well as how to write a meta-analytic review paper. His book is peppered with examples of the technique, which makes the topic more accessible and easier to understand. He also provides advice on the utility of meta-analysis software, such as how it can be used and whether it is needed. This book is written like a good recipe that the reader can follow from beginning to end to produce a meta-analytic study ready to submit for publication....Describes how to do meta-analysis without bogging down the reader with equations. Card offers simple explanations of what to do in meta-analysis and provides enough background so that the reader can understand the rationale behind procedures and why the procedures need to be completed.”


“Card is to be applauded for his thorough discussion of both the fundamentals and recent advances in meta-analysis, and for his use of such friendly, toned-down language. For instance, the graphical presentation of simulation results in order to explain the threat/impact of publication bias will really help readers understand the concept. I really like the author’s discussions of practical matters, which may stimulate readers to investigate new approaches and practices. I will recommend this book to my colleagues in psychology and education who are interested in learning meta-analysis.”

—Soyeon Ahn, PhD, Research, Measurement, and Evaluation Program, University of Miami

“This book teaches individuals how to do a meta-analysis from start to finish. Readers learn how to search the literature, code studies, statistically combine study results, and write up the results. Card covers topics not included in most textbooks, such as how to retrieve unpublished studies, the creation of a coding manual, effect sizes from multiple regression analysis, publication bias, and multivariate procedures in meta-analysis. I like the 'Practical Matters' sections in the chapters. This is an excellent textbook for a course on meta-analysis, and an excellent manual for anyone wanting to conduct a meta-analysis.”

—Brad J. Bushman, PhD, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

“The book is well organized and walks the reader through the concepts in an accessible, logical manner. The definitions and explanations are clear and easy to follow, and the consistent use of examples throughout the chapters is very helpful. The author does a nice job of presenting key considerations, alternative approaches, and the strengths and shortcomings of each option. The reading level and writing style are appropriate for graduate student readers.”

—Jody A. Worley, PhD, Department of Human Relations, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa

Table of Contents

I. The Blueprint: Planning and Preparing a Meta-Analytic Review

1. An Introduction to Meta-Analysis

1.1 The Need for Research Synthesis in the Social Sciences

1.2 Basic Terminology

1.3 A Brief History of Meta-Analysis

1.4 The Scientific Process of Research Synthesis

1.5 An Overview of the Book

1.6 Practical Matters: A Note on Software and Information Management

1.7 Summary

1.8 Recommended Readings

2. Questions That Can and Questions That Cannot Be Answered through Meta-Analysis

2.1 Identifying Goals and Research Questions for Meta-Analysis

2.2 The Limits of Primary Research and the Limits of Meta-Analytic Synthesis

2.3 Critiques of Meta-Analysis: When Are They Valid and When Are They Not?

2.4 Practical Matters: The Reciprocal Relation between Planning and Conducting a Meta-Analysis

2.5 Summary

2.6 Recommended Readings

3. Searching the Literature

3.1 Developing and Articulating a Sampling Frame

3.2 Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

3.3 Finding Relevant Literature

3.4 Reality Checking: Is My Search Adequate?

3.5 Practical Matters: Beginning a Meta-Analytic Database

3.6 Summary

3.7 Recommended Readings

II. The Building Blocks: Coding Individual Studies

4. Coding Study Characteristics

4.1 Identifying Interesting Moderators

4.2 Coding Study “Quality”

4.3 Evaluating Coding Decisions

4.4 Practical Matters: Creating an Organized Protocol for Coding

4.5 Summary

4.6 Recommended Readings

5. Basic Effect Size Computation

5.1 The Common Metrics: Correlation, Standardized Mean Difference, and Odds Ratio

5.2 Computing r from Commonly Reported Results

5.3 Computing g from Commonly Reported Results

5.4 Computing o from Commonly Reported Results

5.5 Comparisons among r, g, and o

5.6 Practical Matters: Using Effect Size Calculators and Meta-Analysis Programs

5.7 Summary

5.8 Recommended Readings

6. Corrections to Effect Sizes

6.1 The Controversy of Correction

6.2 Artifact Corrections to Consider

6.3 Practical Matters: When (and How) to Correct: Conceptual, Methodological, and Disciplinary Considerations

6.4 Summary

6.5 Recommended Readings

7. Advanced and Unique Effect Size Computation

7.1 Describing Single Variables

7.2 When the Metric Is Meaningful: Raw Difference Scores

7.3 Regression Coefficients and Similar Multivariate Effect Sizes

7.4 Miscellaneous Effect Sizes

7.5 Practical Matters: The Opportunities and Challenges of Meta-Analyzing Unique Effect Sizes

7.6 Summary

7.7 Recommended Readings

III. Putting the Pieces Together: Combining and Comparing Effect Sizes

8. Basic Computations: Computing Mean Effect Size and Heterogeneity around This Mean

8.1 The Logic of Weighting

8.2 Measures of Central Tendency in Effect Sizes

8.3 Inferential Testing and Confidence Intervals of Average Effect Sizes

8.4 Evaluating Heterogeneity among Effect Sizes

8.5 Practical Matters: Nonindependence among Effect Sizes

8.6 Summary

8.7 Recommended Readings

9. Explaining Heterogeneity among Effect Sizes: Moderator Analyses

9.1 Categorical Moderators

9.2 Continuous Moderators

9.3 A General Multiple Regression Framework for Moderation

9.4 An Alternative SEM Approach

9.5 Practical Matters: The Limits of Interpreting Moderators in Meta-Analysis

9.6 Summary

9.7 Recommended Readings

10. Fixed-, Random-, and Mixed-Effects Models

10.1 Differences among Models

10.2 Analyses of Random-Effects Models

10.3 Mixed-Effects Models

10.4 A Structural Equation Modeling Approach to Random- and Mixed-Effects Models

10.5 Practical Matters: Which Model Should I Use?

10.6 Summary

10.7 Recommended Readings

11. Publication Bias

11.1 The Problem of Publication Bias

11.2 Managing Publication Bias

11.3 Practical Matters: What Impact Do Sampling Biases Have on Meta-Analytic Conclusions?

11.4 Summary

11.5 Recommended Readings

12. Multivariate Meta-Analytic Models

12.1 Meta-Analysis to Obtain Sufficient Statistics

12.2 Two Approaches to Multivariate Meta-Analysis

12.3 Practical Matters: The Interplay between Meta-Analytic Models and Theory

12.4 Summary

12.5 Recommended Readings

IV. The Final Product: Reporting Meta-Analytic Results

13. Writing Meta-Analytic Results

13.1 Dimensions of Literature Reviews, Revisited

13.2 What to Report and Where to Report It

13.3 Using Figures and Tables in Reporting Meta-Analyses

13.4 Practical Matters: Avoiding Common Problems in Reporting Results of Meta-Analyses

13.5 Summary

13.6 Recommended Readings


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Author

About the Author

Noel A. Card PhD, is Associate Professor in Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. His areas of interest include child and adolescent social development and quantitative research methods. He has received the Society for Research in Child Development Early Career Research Contributions Award and is an elected member of the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology.


Applied social researchers, instructors, and graduate students in psychology, education, family studies, management, public health, sociology, and social work.

Course Use

May serve as a text in graduate-level seminars in meta-analysis or as a supplement in advanced quantitative methods and literature review courses.