Conducting a meta-analysis: basics and good practices

Int J Rheum Dis. 2012 Apr;15(2):129-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-185X.2012.01712.x. Epub 2012 Feb 22.


Meta-analysis is a statistical method to compare and combine effect sizes from a pool of relevant empirical studies. It is now a standard approach to synthesize research findings in many disciplines, including medical and healthcare research. This paper is the third paper of a mini-series introducing systematic review and meta-analysis. First, common effect sizes used in meta-analysis are presented. Fixed-, random- and mixed-effects models are then introduced. Next, a real data set from a published meta-analysis will be used to illustrate the procedures and interpretations. Last, software packages that may be used to conduct meta-analyses will be highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Research Design*
  • Software