Western University PsychologyFaculty of Social Science

Psychology 4991G-001

Special Topics in Psychology: Introduction to Meta-Analysis for Social Science Research

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.



Instructor: TBA

Format: Three seminar hours, 0.5 course.

Office: TBA

Office hours: By appointment

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit:  http://www.uwo.ca/uwocom/mentalhealth/ for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


The course text book is Card, N. A. (2012). Applied meta-analysis for social science research. NY: Guilford. Certain topics will also use the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews. A free copy of the Cochrane handbook is available at the Cochrane website http://handbook.cochrane.org/.


This course serves as an introduction to meta-analysis. No prior experience with meta-analysis is required. However, experience with basic statistics and the psychometric principals of reliability and construct validity are required.

My overall objective is to help you develop the conceptual and theoretical knowledge to use meta-analysis correctly and effectively. My secondary aim is to help you develop critical and original thinking skills. As such, this course involves a hands-on project in which students conduct their own meta-analytic review. Topics include the foundational concepts of meta-analysis, including literature searches, effect size computation, effect size corrections, exploring heterogeneity, meta-regression, publication bias, and reporting of results. Students will have the opportunity to work on projects tailored to their interest and needs. For in-class demonstrations I will typically use Comprehensive Meta-Analysis (CMA), but students are free to use other programs such as R or excel for their individual project. This course is open to third year undergraduates. Performance expectations and assignment standards will be higher for graduate students. Course work and evaluation consist of an individual paper and four assignments. 

Recommended software: Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2005). Comprehensive meta-analysis (version 2) [computer software]. Englewood, NJ: Biostat.




Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/academic_policies/general/grades_undergrad.pdf ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail

Assignments 40%: Four lab assignments will be distributed throughout the course to help you gain hands-on meta-analysis experience. These assignments will involve conducting a literature search and coding study characteristic, running and reporting analyses, interpreting results, and creating a PRISMA diagram. Students will hand in assignments at the start of class.

Individual project (40%): You will be required to perform your own meta-analyses for an individual project. You will need to use real data harvested from a literature review, develop hypotheses/research questions, compute overall effect sizes and related analyses, interpret the results, explore heterogeneity and write a report of the results and your interpretations and conclusions. Students will need to have their topic approved by the instructor no later than January 31. You will need to provide a brief report, summary tables, and a PRISMA diagram by March 7th (worth 20%) and the complete research report (written as an APA research article but with greater emphasis on the Results and Discussion sections) one week after our last class (worth another 20%). Late work. Please inform me ahead of time if you anticipate not meeting a deadline for a legitimate reason. Otherwise, there is a 5% deduction per day for a late assignment (including the project).

Quizzes 10%: You will complete two in-class short multiple choice quizzes. Each quiz is worth 10% and will cover key topics discussed in lectures and readings.

Participation (10%): Participation in this course is defined as attending lectures on time and being engaged and prepared to discuss readings. I will allow one missed lecture. Missing more than one lecture will result in a deduction of 1% out of 10% for each additional missed lecture (i.e., missing 11 lectures in total would results in 0 on class participation). If you have a serious problem preventing you from attending more than two lectures, please inform me or the associate chair.



A note on readings. Required readings include the text book by Noel A. Card (2012). Additional sources I use in my lectures include the Cochrane Handbook Version 7 (available as a PDF online) and Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2009). Introduction to meta-analysis. England: Wiley. Examples will also be drawn from my own meta-analytic research.





Assignments/ Quizzes

Week 1

Introduction and overview

Ch.1 and 2


Week 2

Searching the literature



Week 3

Coding study characteristics



Week 4

Effect size computation and assumptions

Ch. 5

Assignment 1

Week 5

Fixed-, Random- and Mixed Effects


Quiz 1

Week 6

Corrections to Effects / Unique Effects

Ch.6 and 7


Week 7

Exploring Heterogeneity


Assignment 2

Week 8

Moderator analysis

Ch. 9


Week 9

PRISMA diagrams

Cochrane 11.2


Week 10

Meta regression

Ch. 9

Assignment 3

Week 11

Fixed-effect and random-effect models


Quiz 2

Week 12

Publication bias



Week 13

Writing meta-analytic results


Assignment 4


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:  http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/academic_policies/appeals/scholastic_discipline_undergrad.pdf

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and Turnitin.com http://www.turnitin.com

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at:

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:  http://registrar.uwo.ca

Student Development Services web site: http://www.sdc.uwo.ca

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:


- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones, will be allowed during exams.