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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. Circadian rhythms are important for all aspects of biology; virtually every aspect of biological function varies according to time of day. Although this is well known, variation across the day is also often ig...

    Authors: Randy J. Nelson, Jacob R. Bumgarner, Jennifer A. Liu, Jharnae A. Love, O. Hecmarie Meléndez-Fernández, Darius D. Becker-Krail, William H. Walker II, James C. Walton, A. Courtney DeVries and Brian J. Prendergast
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:142
  2. The role of dietary branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and their effect on metabolic health is complex. How dietary BCAA levels and their interaction with background nutrition affect health is unclear. Here, w...

    Authors: Samantha M. Solon-Biet, Lucy Griffiths, Sophie Fosh, David G. Le Couteur, Stephen J. Simpson and Alistair M. Senior
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:19
  3. Over 120 million mice and rats are used annually in research, conventionally housed in shoebox-sized cages that restrict natural behaviours (e.g. nesting and burrowing). This can reduce physical fitness, impai...

    Authors: Jessica Cait, Alissa Cait, R. Wilder Scott, Charlotte B. Winder and Georgia J. Mason
    Citation: BMC Biology 2022 20:15
  4. Resistance and tolerance are two coexisting defense strategies for fighting infections. Resistance is mediated by signaling pathways that induce transcriptional activation of resistance factors that directly e...

    Authors: Human Riahi, Michaela Fenckova, Kayla J. Goruk, Annette Schenck and Jamie M. Kramer
    Citation: BMC Biology 2021 19:112
  5. Unreliable research programmes waste funds, time, and even the lives of the organisms we seek to help and understand. Reducing this waste and increasing the value of scientific evidence require changing the ac...

    Authors: Rose E. O’Dea, Timothy H. Parker, Yung En Chee, Antica Culina, Szymon M. Drobniak, David H. Duncan, Fiona Fidler, Elliot Gould, Malika Ihle, Clint D. Kelly, Malgorzata Lagisz, Dominique G. Roche, Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar, David P. Wilkinson, Bonnie C. Wintle and Shinichi Nakagawa
    Citation: BMC Biology 2021 19:68
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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