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Books, Journals, New Media
January 21, 1998

Meta-analysisHow Science Takes Stock: The Story of Meta-Analysis

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 1998;279(3):244. doi:10.1001/jama.279.3.244-JBK0121-2-1

Meta-analysis is the systematic analysis of a collection of results from individual studies for the purpose of quantitative synthesis. Since its introduction in the 1970s, meta-analysis has gained widespread use in the educational and social sciences, and, in the last decade, there has been rapid diffusion of this methodology into medicine and public health.

Several textbooks have been written on meta-analysis, but Morton Hunt's How Science Takes Stock is an effort to explain this technique to audiences outside the scientific community. The author targets "a public comprising any and all persons with a general intellectual interest in science, plus one special audience: members of Congress, state legislators, agency administrators, and their staffs. . . ." In large part, Hunt succeeds, providing us with a well-written and accessible description of a methodology that has had an important impact on science over the past two decades. This book will interest JAMA readers, despite the fact that many of the illustrations and anecdotes lie outside the fields of medicine and public health.

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