Writing an Efficient Meta-Analysis Paper: Guide for Students
If you are a student of a healthcare or any other related faculty, you will certainly have to write meta-analysis papers during your college/university years. This type of writing is focused on gathering, analyzing and combining information on a certain topic. You will have to find, review, and evaluate carefully a great deal of different sources. Meta-analysis is considered as the most efficient technique of creating evidence for a research and summing up the results of a study.
What is a meta-analysis?
Meta-analysis is something more than a traditional analysis of sources you have probably made at college. This is a statistical technique, which plays a significant role in evidence-based disciplines. If you compare meta-analysis to other study strategies, you will see that this one is the fullest and the most proficient one. If you imagine all existing techniques as a hierarchy, then meta-analysis will appear on the very top of it. Meta-analysis is known as the most objective and strong approach to an academic research, especially when it comes to medical subjects.
What is a purpose of a meta-analysis?
The main aim of a meta-analysis is performing a wide and strong research. For example, if we want to study a topic and test our research for validity, we cannot rely on one resource. Moreover, we cannot rely on a couple of resources if all of them reveal our topic from a single angle. The results of a certain study can be different and we have to learn as many of them as we can to conduct a strong study. It means that we should also include the opposite views on the problem and review different study samples to have a clear picture of the event, hypothesis, or idea. In a word, the more studies we include, the more accurate our research is.
How to write a meta-analysis?
- Step 1: Stating a central problem
First and foremost, you should come up with a main question of your paper, the one that is going to be reviewed and answered. You should make it as specific as possible. At the same time, check if there is a sufficient amount of study materials available.
- Step 2: Do a research
You may go to a college library or find reliable sources online. When looking for information on the web, make sure that you stick to academic databases and rely on up-to-date sources. Check books, encyclopedias, newspapers, journals, and educational websites to gather enough data on your topic.
- Step 3: Exclude and include
You have to reassure that the sources you pick have direct connection to your topic. Also, you need to find a criterion of exclusion and inclusion when carrying out an analysis. This means that you may focus on tested materials and exclude any theoretical studies. However, remember that your main aim is to make your research as full as possible, therefore avoiding specific sources can make your conclusions weak. Be attentive and exclude only those sources that have a weak relation to your subject.
- Step 4: Extract information
This is one of the most complicated parts. You should review all the materials you have gathered before and extract information for your results of interest. After that, you need to find the most efficient way to combine them in a single analysis. The final version of your analysis should have a logical flow and reveal your central ideas in the most comprehensible way.
- Step 5: Do the analysis
There are numerous aspects to consider here. First, you have to inform your readers about the amount of authors you have reviewed. Second, you should characterize the types of information you have used. What are the sources? Did you use samples sizes or patient demographics? Third, you need to evaluate the results you have received after reading all the sources and inform your readers in what way they could be combined. Describe some methods of statistical analysis you have used to arrange the sources and results in a single analysis set. Then make sure that you reflect on the received results carefully and describe their applicability.Indeed, meta-analysis is a strong method of data evaluation. It is absolutely crucial to have a clear central question before you start working on your paper, otherwise you risk to get lost in the middle of your work. Also, make sure that your final results are valid and check them for meaningfulness (you may perform additional research to do so). You should apply a consistent approach to your paper and follow the recommendations listed above. This way, you will avoid some common mistakes and make the writing process easier.