The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

The Science of Research Synthesis: Limiting Bias and Error in Research Reviews

Sunday, January 19, 2014: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
HBG Convention Center, Room 103B Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Julia H. Littell, PhD, Bryn Mawr College and Brandy R. Maynard, PhD, Saint Louis University
The best empirical evidence for social change comes not from single studies, but from scientific analyses and syntheses of multiple studies on the same topic. Replication is an essential principle of science, but pure replications are very rare in social work research. Instead, most studies investigate variations on important themes: How widespread are various conditions? Which risk and protective factors are associated with specific conditions? How acceptable are certain interventions in different populations? Which interventions have been rigorously evaluated with what results? What works best for whom under what conditions? These questions and others can be addressed with systematic reviews and meta-analyses, even in the presence of substantial (and statistical) heterogeneity across studies.

Workshop presenters will describe scientific principles and methods that guide the conduct of rigorous reviews of empirical research, along with empirical evidence for current guidelines and standards for systematic reviews. With an emphasis on the conceptual foundations of research synthesis, this workshop is appropriate for all SSWR attendees, regardless of previous exposure to systematic review methods or meta-analysis.

In this 4-hour workshop, participants will

  1. become familiar with evidence- and consensus-based standards for the conduct, reporting, and critical appraisal of research reviews;
  2. learn how to minimize bias and error in research reviews;
  3. learn where to obtain up-to-date information, guidelines, tools, and practical advice on research synthesis methods;
  4. identify local and global challenges and partnerships for research synthesis; and
  5. consider the potential uses of research synthesis to inform policy, practice, and further research.

Presenters will review decision models that show how information from research syntheses can be used, along with other information, to inform decisions at any level of practice. We will also consider the importance of research syntheses in identifying current gaps in knowledge and directions for new research. 

Pedagogical methods in this workshop include lecture, discussion, small group exercise, software demonstration, and handouts.

See more of: Workshops