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Research Synthesis and Meta-research in Biology

meta3Guest Editors: Shinichi Nakagawa, Julia Koricheva, Malcolm Macleod, Wolfgang Viechtbauer

Research synthesis is the process of bringing together findings from different publications, with the aim of providing a more complete description of phenomena than is usually possible in a single work. It has become an indispensable part of science and its applications are rapidly expanding. At the same time, research synthesis methodologies are undergoing unprecedented changes. Meanwhile, meta-research or research of research (also known as ‘meta-science’) has emerged as a new field; this new field, by its nature, extensively uses research synthesis methodology. Biology can benefit enormously from these new developments.

For this series, BMC Biology have invited Reviews and Opinions, Q&As and Commentaries, and welcome submissions of Research, Methodology and Software articles.

We will consider manuscripts of broad and/or interdisciplinary biological interest on research synthesis, its methodology, and meta-research, including on the following topics:

  • Systematic reviews with quantitative synthesis (meta-analysis) and qualitative synthesis (meta-synthesis)
  • Systematic and evidence maps
  • Bibliometric analyses, science mapping, and research weaving
  • Methodologies, including software packages, for research synthesis, especially statistical methods for (biological) meta-analyses
  • Best practice, reporting guidelines and usage guides (e.g. tutorials) for research synthesis
  • Meta-research studies using research synthesis methodologies

Papers in our Registered Reports format will also be welcomed and encouraged where possible.

Submit your manuscript here


  1. Meta-analysis is often used to make generalisations across all available evidence at the global scale. But how can these global generalisations be used for evidence-based decision making at the local scale, if...

    Authors: Gorm E. Shackelford, Philip A. Martin, Amelia S. C. Hood, Alec P. Christie, Elena Kulinskaya and William J. Sutherland

    Citation: BMC Biology 2021 19:33

    Content type: Methodology article

    Published on:

  2. Growing evidence shows that scientific collaboration plays a crucial role in transformative innovation in the life sciences. For example, contemporary drug discovery and development reflects the work of teams ...

    Authors: Feixiong Cheng, Yifang Ma, Brian Uzzi and Joseph Loscalzo

    Citation: BMC Biology 2020 18:138

    Content type: Research article

    Published on:

  3. Life-history theory predicts a trade-off between investment into immune defence and other fitness-related traits. Accordingly, individuals are expected to upregulate their immune response when subjected to imm...

    Authors: M. Nystrand and D. K. Dowling

    Citation: BMC Biology 2020 18:135

    Content type: Research article

    Published on:

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