Meta-Analysis and the Development of Knowledge

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2012 Jan;7(1):79-92. doi: 10.1177/1745691611429355. Epub 2012 Jan 5.


With the widespread application of meta-analysis, it is important to examine the role of meta-analysis in the development of knowledge. Researchers have proposed that meta-analysis provides us with an overview of where the research field has been, summarizes and integrates extant research findings, and suggests directions for future research efforts. Some researchers further argue that meta-analysis can contribute to the accumulation of knowledge and the progress of science. In this article, these claims are examined from an epistemological perspective. Using Kuhn's (1962, 1970b) framework, the authors discuss how meta-analysis contributes to the progress of both normal science and extraordinary science and thus plays an important role in knowledge development in a field.

Keywords: epistemology; knowledge development; meta-analysis; progress of science.