An Empirical Review of Research and Reporting Practices in Psychological Meta-Analyses


As meta-analytic studies have come to occupy a sizable contingent of published work in the psychological sciences, clarity in the research and reporting practices of such work is crucial to the interpretability and reproducibility of research findings. The present study examines the state of research and reporting practices within a random sample of 384 published psychological meta-analyses across several important dimensions (e.g., search methods, exclusion criteria, statistical techniques). In addition, we surveyed the first authors of the meta-analyses in our sample to ask them directly about the research practices employed and reporting decisions made in their studies, including the assessments and procedures they conducted and the guidelines or materials they relied on. Upon cross-validating the first author responses with what was reported in their published meta-analyses, we identified numerous potential gaps in reporting and research practices. In addition to providing a survey of recent reporting practices, our findings suggest that (a) there are several research practices conducted by meta-analysts that are ultimately not reported; (b) some aspects of meta-analysis research appear to be conducted at disappointingly low rates; and (c) the adoption of the reporting standards, including the Meta-Analytic Reporting Standards (MARS), has been slow to nonexistent within psychological meta-analytic research.

Journal of General Psychology, 24 (3), pp. 195-209
Richard E. Hohn
Richard E. Hohn
PhD Candidate