Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Robert Stimson
Chapter 13: Meta-analysis of previous empirical research findings
As in other fields in the social sciences, the number of applied spatial studies on any given topic has been growing very rapidly in recent decades. This trend is not just the result of an increase in the number of academics and others actively conducting empirical research, but also because of path-breaking changes in computer power and storage, the development of new methodologies and a flood of numbers on all aspects of life. All this research activity has become increasingly accessible through the Internet with electronic publication of working papers, journal articles and, more recently, books as well. Search engines, such as Google Scholar, give the student and researcher instantaneously a list of recent studies on any topic. The scientific impact of each contribution can be readily, albeit imperfectly, gauged by means of the number of ‘hits’ of a web page, downloads of an article, or the number of times a paper has been cited to date. Chapter 5 of this book discussed how a student or researcher can efficiently and effectively extract information from what is often a vast amount of literature on a topic in order to write the literature review. The literature review aims to be an objective assessment of what is known on a particular topic and, more importantly, may suggest what is not known yet. This can be the basis for formulating a new project: either developing new theory, or conducting new empirical analysis, or both.
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