The Research Synthesis as a Method

Research syntheses create a comprehensive overview of the state of research on a particular topic area. By summarizing existing research findings from individual studies, research syntheses make it possible to reassess and classify these results and findings. Additionally, this method also aims to highlight, discuss and explain contradictory research findings from individual studies.

Types of Research Syntheses

  • Meta-analyses summarize the results of primary studies using statistical methods.
  • Systematic reviews summarize the results of primary studies in a descriptive manner.
  • Second-order meta-analyses/second-order reviews summarize the results of meta-analyses or systematic reviews.


All research syntheses follow a specific procedure.


The literature search is the first step of the research synthesis. For this purpose, we define keywords on certain thematic aspects, according to which we search subject-specific databases. In doing so, we include international research. These not only provide us with ideas for our own practice, but also allow us to compare different school systems and to identify and explain differences and similarities.


In the phase of Screening, we screen all hits from the Literature Search. Based on the title and the abstract of the individual studies found, we check whether they are relevant for our research synthesis. For the individual study to be considered, all inclusion criteria must be met. These can be of a content-related nature or concern the method of the individual studies.


In the course of Coding, we work with the individual studies classified as relevant in the inclusion and exclusion coding phase. We review them in detail and systematically work through their content. To do this, we extract the information from the individual studies that will be used to create the research synthesis. If a closer look at an individual study reveals that it is not relevant to the research synthesis question after all, it can also be excluded in this step.



In the final step, the Data Analysis, we summarize, analyze and compare the information obtained from all the individual studies considered.


As soon as the research synthesis is completed, we can start the sharing of results. Therefore, we communicate our research results through various channels such as press releases, print media, our website or social media in order to reach teachers, schools, policy makers and all those interested in school practice.