Meta-Analysis: A Primer for Legal Scholars
52 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2006
Empirical research relevant to legal issues is common in other disciplines, and is once again growing more common in the legal academy. Such research, however, varies widely in theoretical and methodological rigor, and at times yields widely different results. Such disparate findings may bring into question the usefulness of such empirical research, and may render it suspect in the eyes of practitioners, courts, and policy-makers. One approach to helping address such concerns is meta-analysis - the quantitative, rather than simply narrative review of empirical research. Meta-analysis synthesizes the relevant empirical literature, statistically summarizing the results of all empirical work in a particular area; and also identifies moderator variables, aspects of the various studies that might have influenced their findings. In this article I explain the importance of the meta-analytic approach, discussing what it is, why it is useful to members of the legal system, and the straightforward way of conducting a meta-analysis. This primer should be useful to legal academics, policy-makers, courts, and practitioners.
Keywords: meta-analysis, empirical methdology
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