Critical Review of Meta Analysis

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A Critical Review of Meta-Analysis


Meta-analysis has been much debated and criticized since its creation, and it has been argued that systematic reviews are superior. The present study examined the reverse idea – that meta-analysis is the superior method. A literature search was conducted of meta-analysis studies for psychotherapy within the PsycINFO database. The resulting studies were further examined and classified as either primary articles or secondary articles. Primary articles were further examined for secondary articles associated with them. It was found that there was some criticism within the literature. The results were compared to a study of systematic review literature conducted at the same time. The
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As with any other process, meta-analysis has several disadvantages or weaknesses. It’s been argued, for example, that one of the weaknesses of meta-analysis is associated with the fact that it requires a great amount of effort and expertise, and that currently there is a major drawback in the research community of those who conduct them (Berkeljon & Baldwin, 2009). Lipsey & Wilson (2001) also argued that meta-analysis often ‘loses’ a lot of valuable qualitative data (for example, the social context of the study) because it aggregates only quantitative data. It is further argued that the exclusion of such data may sometimes interfere with the process of arriving at the right conclusion (Lipsey & Wilson, 2001). Other authors also argue that meta-analysis includes a mix of different studies in a single review which could be very problematic (Berkeljon & Baldwin, 2009). For example, Glass, McGraw & Smith (1981) referred to this as the “apples and oranges” problem, arguing that different treatments and measures are given the same weight, when, in fact, they are not always the same. This, Glass, McGraw, and Smith claimed, can result in a misrepresentation of the measures used in each study, as well as their level of contribution to the review, which would skew the results. Lastly, the weaknesses of meta-analysis have been noted by others to stem from the fact that if poor quality studies or
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