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Introduction to Research Synthesis

A systematic review or research synthesis uses a transparent and replicable process to identify, appraise and synthesize the available evidence on a given topic. Systematic reviews are widely cited within many social science disciplines, and may use a range of methods to synthesize evidence depending on the guiding research question. A typology of systematic reviews by Littell can be found here.

Two organizations that support systematic review and meta-analysis are Cochrane  (formerly The Cochrane Collaboration in 1994) for evidence-based medicine and The Campbell Collaboration in 2000 for evidence-based social interventions -- including those related to education. 

Cochrane and its sibling organization, Campbell, began to set the standard for systematic review and meta-analysis methodologies in their respective fields. From these methodologies were born the cornerstones of the techniques meta-analysts use today. In fact, The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is often referenced as a seminal resource in health and medicine for conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses. However, for researchers and practitioners in education, you will find more comprehensive information tailored to the needs of professionals in the field on The Campbell Collaboration's website; which you can visit by clicking the logo below. 

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