SEB Meta-analysis Workshop


Meta-analysis workshop materials

View the Project on GitHub daniel1noble/meta-workshop

Introduction to Meta-Analysis in Comparative Physiology

This webpage hosts material for our meta-analysis workshop that was run complimentary to the A21 session “Illuminating hot topics in experimental biology: A meta-analytic approach to understanding biological phenomenon” at the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) 2022 conference in Montpellier, France. The workshop was a team effort, run by Daniel Noble, Nicholas Wu and Essie Rodgers with help from Patrice Pottier.

You can watch the full workshop recording on YouTube.

About the Workshop

The material covered here is geared towards researchers interested in conducting a meta-analysis in the field of comparative physiology. In other words, the examples have been chosen from the comparative physiology literature so that the workshop is relevant to the SEB audience. Having said that, all the principles learnt here apply to meta-analyses conducted in any research field.

Meta-analysis is a huge, complex topic. We can only hope to touch the surface of how it’s done in a single morning workshop. As such, we will not have time to cover a critical aspect of meta-analysis; the process of systematic searching and data curation.

Systematic searches are important to comprehensive, transparent and reproducible meta-analyses. The question needs to be clearly defined, and systematic searches need to be well documented, carefully refined, have detailed inclusion/exclusion criteria so that they may be repeated in the future. Foo et al. 2021 is an excellent resource for this stage of a meta-analysis. We also recommend following the PRISMA Eco-Evo protocol proposed by O’Dea et al. 2020. For data curation in preparation for a meta-analysis, we recommend following advice by Schwanz et al. 2022.

We also provide a list of useful readings and software for earlier elements of a meta-analysis (e.g., extracting data from figures literature searching, snowballing etc). Please cite these software in your meta-analysis. Many of the authors spend a huge amount of time developing and maintaining these free resources. They are as important to cite as the statistical software used to analyse the data.

Preparation for the workshop

In preparation for the workshop, we highly recommend the following background knowledge as we will use the metafor R package (Viechtbauer 2010) as our primary method for constructing meta-analytic models:

Recommended readings

For a comprehensive guide on meta-analysis starting from a scoping study to writing a meta-analysis paper, see the YouTube Hard-Boiled Synthesis course by Marc Lajeunesse. It covers materials in detail beyond our workshop.

Table of Contents


We thank the Society for Experimental Biology and the Company of Biologist for sponsoring the workshop and allowing the recording to be freely available for the public.

SEB logo CoB logo