Consequences of effect size heterogeneity for meta-analysis: a Monte Carlo study

M.J. Koetse, R.J.G.M. Florax, H.L.F. de Groot

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In this article we use Monte Carlo analysis to assess the small sample behaviour of the OLS, the weighted least squares (WLS) and the mixed effects meta-estimators under several types of effect size heterogeneity, using the bias, the mean squared error and the size and power of the statistical tests as performance indicators. Specifically, we analyse the consequences of heterogeneity in effect size precision (heteroskedasticity) and of two types of random effect size variation, one where the variation holds for the entire sample, and one where only a subset of the sample of studies is affected. Our results show that the mixed effects estimator is to be preferred to the other two estimators in the first two situations, but that WLS outperforms OLS and mixed effects in the third situation. Our findings therefore show that, under circumstances that are quite common in practice, using the mixed effects estimator may be suboptimal and that the use of WLS is preferable. © Springer-Verlag 2010.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-236
Number of pages20
JournalStatistical Methods and Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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