Debunking myths and urban legends about meta-analysis


Meta-analysis is the dominant approach to research synthesis in the organizational sciences. We discuss seven meta-analytic practices, misconceptions, claims, and assumptions that have reached the status of myths and urban legends (MULs). These seven MULs include issues related to data collection (e.g., consequences of choices made in the process of gathering primary-level studies to be included in a meta-analysis), data analysis (e.g., effects of meta-analytic choices and technical refinements on substantive conclusions and recommendations for practice), and the interpretation of results (e.g., meta-analytic inferences about causal relationships). We provide a critical analysis of each of these seven MULs, including a discussion of why each merits being classified as an MUL, their kernels of truth value, and what part of each MUL represents misunderstanding. As a consequence of discussing each of these seven MULs, we offer best-practice recommendations regarding how to conduct meta-analytic reviews. © The Author(s) 2011.

Publication Title

Organizational Research Methods