To make a valid decision about using an intercession, you cannot rely on the outcomes obtained from a single study. This is so because the results may vary from one study to another for different reasons such as confounding factors and use of distinct study samples. That is when the meta-analysis comes into view.
Meta-analysis is basically a statistical analysis of multiple studies within your area of study. The principle of meta-analysis is the identification of common concepts in all conceptually similar studies with a specific degree of error within each study. Widely used in the area of medicines, meta-analysis process synthesises data athwart the studies, quantifies & analyses inconsistencies across the studies, and investigates publication bias.
Today, many journals embolden research scholars to submit meta-analysis paper that summarises the body of evidence of a certain research question. For example, a research document that reports outcomes of a primary study may consist of meta-analysis in the introduction section to synthesise prior data and place a new study within the context. However, undoubtedly penning-down such kind of paper is strenuous task. Essentially meta-analysis includes section such as
- Impressive topic - The secret of crafting a perfect meta-analysis paper is identifying a topic which includes the body of the text. To find a topic, you may explore the previous findings that provides explanation to the known concepts.
- Abstract - Although conciseness needs to be maintained in this section, you cannot afford to miss significant concepts. The abstract must include subsections such as background, selection criteria, data sources & synthesis, and quality criteria.
- Introduction - This section must provide an in-depth background to the current review including the reviews of the previous studies and state of the art knowledge in the area of study. Also the significance of the review must be included here.
- Methods - This is the most important section in the meta-analysis paper. This section must provide information about the search strategies (including data-base). Not just this, include types of studies & participants, approaches utilised in assessing the methodological quality of the study, how the heterogeneity of the studies were evaluated and in-depth information about subgroup analyses. In this chapter, you must explicitly define the significant outcome measure(s). Approaches used for data collection and analysis must be explained to enable an independent reader interpret the results. Also the information regarding the handling of missing data and existence of biases must be mentioned.
- Results - This section must include the total number of studies that were analysed and also the aggregate number of participants. Summary features of the studies must be included such as sample sizes, design, interventions, and outcomes. An analysis of the relative distribution of potential variables among the various studies should also be enlisted.
- Conclusion & discussion - The conclusion chapter must be purely based on the data and not on your personal point of view and must restate the crucial findings. The discussion must enlist the factors that assist to interpret the crucial findings as well as possible causes of bias. The discussion should also enclose the quality of the evidence, completeness of the evidence, and the possibility of bias.
Now that you know how to craft a meta-analysis paper, fold your sleeves and write a paper which is apt and structured. Remember, if crafted in a flawless manner, it can significantly contribute to the existing knowledge of your study area.