Research synthesis as a scientific process

Harris Cooper, Larry Vernon Hedges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript

200 Scopus citations


The moment we are introduced to science we are told it is a cooperative, cumulative enterprise. Like the artisans who construct a building from blueprints, bricks, and mortar, scientists contribute to a common edifice, called knowledge. Theorists provide our blueprints and researchers collect the data that are our bricks. To extend the analogy further yet, we might say that research synthesists are the bricklayers and hodcarriers of the science guild. It is their job to stack the bricks according to plan and apply the mortar that makes the whole thing stick. Anyone who has attempted a research synthesis is entitled to a wry smile as the analogy continues. They know that several sets of theory-blueprints often exist, describing structures that vary in form and function, with few a priori criteria for selecting between them. They also know that our data-bricks are not all six-sided and right-angled. They come in a baffling array of sizes and shapes. Making them fit, securing them with mortar, and seeing whether the resulting construction looks anything like the blueprint is a challenge worthy of the most dedicated, inspired artisan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Hand. of Res. Synthesis and Meta-Analysis, 2nd Ed.
PublisherRussell Sage Foundation
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780871541635
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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