Big data in educational science: The story of meta-analysis

In this insightful analysis, two seasoned experts from University of Zurich (Switzerland) explore the exciting world of big data in educational science, focusing on the story of meta-analysis

By way of an introduction, big data is a currently a hot topic, not only in educational science but in science more generally, as Esther Kaufmann and Professor Dr Katharina Maag Merki explain. The authors add that recently, meta-analysis was mentioned as “the grandmother of the ‘big data’ and ‘open science’ movements” (Gurevitch, Koricheva, Nakagawa & Stewart, 2018). Considering this important development, the authors take the time to introduce the story of meta-analysis – to understand in detail the relevance of meta-analysis in relation to big data.

To present the complete story of meta-analysis and to understand the value and challenges of it in the context of big data, the authors introduce the origins of meta-analysis and how it spread into the world of educational science. Finally, they detail the pros and cons of meta-analysis and link it to their insightful summary and outlook for the future of big data analysis.

Looking ahead, the authors stress that more and more data coming from different sources can now be seen, but furthermore, they tell us that individual data is accumulating. They develop this point to us in their own words: “Hence, we see IPD meta-analysis as a grandchild of classical meta-analysis—with which it is possible to check for any aggregation bias—and IPD meta-analysis might also be an analysis tool for big data.”

If you are interested in this absorbing research from the University of Zurich (Switzerland), Esther Kaufmann, PhD and Professor Dr Katharina Maag Merki would warmly welcome your emails, should you require additional information. You can contact them at and  They also would like to draw your attention to their previously published work: Kaufmann, E., & Maag Merki, K. (2017). Big data in educational science: Meta-analysis as an analysis tool.


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