Meta-Modeling: A Theory-Based Synthesis Approach

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Research synthesis has become an increasingly popular approach for summarizing primary research. In the past two decades, interest in mixed methods reviews has steadily grown, followed, more recently, by an increased attention to theory-based syntheses. This article advances and illustrates a practical application of meta-modeling—a mixed methods, theory-based synthesis approach. The proposed methodology combines meta-analytic and qualitative comparative techniques in developing a program theory—a meta-model—of how and why a program works. As the article illustrates, meta-modeling provides for a structured and transparent synthesis approach for building program theories across existing studies.

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