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Psychol Methods. 2005 Dec;10(4):428-43.

Publication bias in research synthesis: sensitivity analysis using a priori weight functions.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.


Publication bias, sometimes known as the "file-drawer problem" or "funnel-plot asymmetry," is common in empirical research. The authors review the implications of publication bias for quantitative research synthesis (meta-analysis) and describe existing techniques for detecting and correcting it. A new approach is proposed that is suitable for application to meta-analytic data sets that are too small for the application of existing methods. The model estimates parameters relevant to fixed-effects, mixed-effects or random-effects meta-analysis contingent on a hypothetical pattern of bias that is fixed independently of the data. The authors illustrate this approach for sensitivity analysis using 3 data sets adapted from a commonly cited reference work on research synthesis (H. M. Cooper & L. V. Hedges, 1994).

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