We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Communicating comparative findings from meta-analysis in educational research : some examples and suggestions.

Higgins, S. and Katsipataki, M. (2016) 'Communicating comparative findings from meta-analysis in educational research : some examples and suggestions.', International journal of research and method in education., 39 (3). pp. 237-254.


This article reviews some of the strengths and limitations of the comparative use of meta-analysis findings, using examples from the Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning ‘Toolkit’ which summarizes a range of educational approaches to improve pupil attainment in schools. This comparative use of quantitative findings has similar characteristics to umbrella reviews which provide a succinct but applicable summary of the current state of evidence to inform practice or policy. Meta-analysis helps to identify which approaches have, on average, made the most difference to tested learning outcomes, in terms of effect size. We suggest that any comparative inferences made between meta-analyses should be treated cautiously, but taken seriously. Additionally, we present alternative ways of interpreting effect sizes, security ratings and cost-estimates to make research findings accessible, whilst retaining appropriate accuracy which is discussed using the ‘Toolkit’ as an example. We conclude by arguing that we should consider the available information not as ‘what works’, but ‘what has worked’ to understand its value and limits in terms of supporting the development of research-based practice.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in International Journal of Research & Method in Education on 23/03/2016, available online at:
Date accepted:03 March 2016
Date deposited:07 March 2016
Date of first online publication:23 March 2016
Date first made open access:23 March 2017

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar