An introduction to meta-analysis for the social sciences - Online

Course Code


Organised by

NCRM, University of Southampton and Durham Research Methods Centre


Professor Steve Higgins


03/06/2021 - 04/06/2021


Online run by the University of Southampton and University of Durham


View in Google Maps  (SO17 1BJ)


Jacqui Thorp
Training and Capacity Building Co-Ordinator, National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton


This course provides a conceptual introduction to meta-analysis (or quantitative synthesis) in the social sciences. The aim is to develop understanding and interpretation of the results from a meta-analysis and the ability to critique a report or publication which contains a meta-analysis. The course will provide an overview of different software that can be used to conduct a meta-analysis and the statistical principles involved, but please note this course does not provide training in conducting a meta-analysis using specific software. The focus is on understanding and critique of the approach.

The course covers:

  • The principles of meta-analysis and its use in the social science, particularly education
  • The role of meta-analysis as a technique for research synthesis
  • The basic techniques and concepts of meta-analysis to support understanding of its benefits and limitations
  • An introduction to the statistical terminology involved in meta-analysis with a focus on understanding and interpretation.

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Understand the role of meta-analysis as a form of research synthesis
  • Understand the concept of effect size as a metric for comparing intervention research findings
  • Be able to read and understand a forest plot of the results from a meta-analysis
  • Be able to read a meta-analysis of intervention research findings, interpret the results, and draw conclusions

This course is aimed at Doctoral students and researchers in the social sciences looking for a basic introduction to the concepts and principles of meta-analysis.

Programme (tbc)

Session 1

What is a meta-analysis?

When should you undertake a quantitative synthesis?

What is an effect size?

Interpreting a forest plot

Session 2

Understanding and interpreting heterogeneity

Fixed effect and random effects models

Challenges in meta-analysis

Session 3

Calculating an effect size

Which results do you include in a meta-analysis

Session 4

Assessing publication bias

Advanced techniques (e.g. network, Bayesian, IPD)

Software for meta-analysis

Preparatory Reading - to be advised


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


The fee per teaching day is: • £30 per day for students registered at UK/EU University. • £60 per day for staff at UK/EU academic institutions, UK/EU Research Councils researchers, UK/EU public sector staff and staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations and recognised UK/EU research institutions. • £100 per day for all other participants In the event of cancellation by the delegate a full refund of the course fee is available up to two weeks prior to the course. NO refunds are available after this date. If it is no longer possible to run a course due to circumstances beyond its control, NCRM reserves the right to cancel the course at its sole discretion at any time prior to the event. In this event every effort will be made to reschedule the course. If this is not possible or the new date is inconvenient a full refund of the course fee will be given. NCRM shall not be liable for any costs, losses or expenses that may be incurred as a result of its cancellation of a course, including but not limited to any travel or accommodation costs. The University of Southampton’s Online Store T&Cs also continue to apply.

Website and registration


South East


Quality in Quantitative Research, Meta-analysis , Research synthesis , Quantitative methods

Related publications and presentations

Quality in Quantitative Research

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