Meta-Analysis Resources

Tools for Those Who Summarize the Evidence Base

Resources and networking for those who conduct or interpret meta-analyses related to any phenomenon that is gauged in multiple studies.

Meta-analyses often need to find relevant studies whose abstracts don't report key information in standardized databases. Example: Johnson and Eagly (1990) painstakingly reviewed over 6000 abstracts to find 162 qualifying studies that compared men and women's leadership style. Abstracts usually had something about "leadership" in the abstracts, but seldom mentioned gender. (One might even guess that those that did mention gender found larger differences, a form of reporting bias.) The only way to find the relevant studies was to obtain the reports and scan through them for reports about gender.

On the face of it, Google Scholar may seem like the solution, but it is limited to items that are on the web, and much, perhaps most, is not publicly available on the web. And there are all those multiple hits that can make searching for studies like the proverbial hunt for a needle in a haystack.

What is really needed is full-text databases that permit scholars to find relevant reports quickly and efficiently.

Here's where I'll ask your input: What are the best full-text databases? Ebsco, Science Direct, and PubMed seem like relevant candidates. However, these database hosts can only do full-text searches of the articles to which they have full-text access (and not for those articles that are linked out to other places). And of course one must have subscription to search them. Are there better options out there?

Does anyone know of dedicated projects to create comprehensive databases of reports relevant to a research phenomenon?

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Replies to This Discussion

The evolution from print indexes/abstracts (cue Index Medicus), basically meant vastly improved searching capabilities of not much more information (cue PubMed). When looking for fulltext search, the best option currently is to use publisher websites. They're not as comprehensive as databases, not good for gray literature, nor do they necessarily have good search engines. But, we have access to them and they do search fulltext.

The major journal publisher websites worth searching in the sciences include:
Science Direct (Elsevier):
Wiley Interscience:

Open source publisher websites:
BioMed Central:
PubMed Central:

For physics, arXiv is the best place: arXiv (

Our fulltext databases include:
JSTOR (click on the word JSTOR to get to the database):
PsycInfo (click on the word PsycInfo to get to the database):
Once in PsycInfo, you have to go to the limits and click the box for Also search within the full text of the articles
Once in ABI/Inform, make sure you change the fields your searching to include the citation and document text.
Thanks Jill, great summary!

One question: If one does not have an affiliation with the University of Connecticut, how can one access these databases?

I am curious if any members of this site have updates on Jill's suggestions. For example, SCIRUS offers full-text searches. Are these redundant with such sources as are listed here?


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