The meta-analytic big bang

William R. Shadish, Jesse D. Lecy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This article looks at the impact of meta-analysis and then explores why meta-analysis was developed at the time and by the scholars it did in the social sciences in the 1970s. For the first problem, impact, it examines the impact of meta-analysis using citation network analysis. The impact is seen in the sciences, arts and humanities, and on such contemporaneous developments as multilevel modeling, medical statistics, qualitative methods, program evaluation, and single-case design. Using a constrained snowball sample of citations, we highlight key articles that are either most highly cited or most central to the systematic review network. Then, the article examines why meta-analysis came to be in the 1970s in the social sciences through the work of Gene Glass, Robert Rosenthal, and Frank Schmidt, each of whom developed similar theories of meta-analysis at about the same time. The article ends by explaining how Simonton's chance configuration theory and Campbell's evolutionary epistemology can illuminate why meta-analysis occurred with these scholars when it did and not in medical sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-264
Number of pages19
JournalResearch Synthesis Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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