A brief history of research synthesis.
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Science is supposed to be cumulative, but scientists only rarely cumulate evidence scientifically. This means that users of research evidence have to cope with a plethora of reports of individual studies with no systematic attempt made to present new results in the context of similar studies. Although the need to synthesize research evidence has been recognized for well over two centuries, explicit methods for this form of research were not developed until the 20th century. The development of methods to reduce statistical imprecision using quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis) preceded the development of methods to reduce biases, the latter only beginning to receive proper attention during the last quarter of the 20th century. In this article, the authors identify some of the trends and highlights in this history, to which researchers in the physical, natural, and social sciences have all contributed, and speculate briefly about the "future history" of research synthesis.
History, 19th Century
History, 20th Century
Meta-Analysis as Topic
Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1177/0163278702025001003
Publication InfoChalmers, Iain; Hedges, Larry V; & Cooper, Harris (2002). A brief history of research synthesis. Eval Health Prof, 25(1). pp. 12-37. 10.1177/0163278702025001003. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14942.
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Hugo L. Blomquist Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience
Harris Cooper received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 1975. From 1977 to 2003, he was on the faculty at the University of Missouri. In 2003, he moved to Duke University where he is now Hugo L. Blomquist Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. Dr. Cooper has been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, the University of Oregon, and the Russell Sage Fou