Quantitative Research Synthesis: The Use of Meta-Analysis in Career Guidance and Vocational Psychology

  • Paul A. GoreJr.
  • Takuya Minami

Since its inception at the turn of the 20th century, vocational psychology has thrived as a result of empirical research and theoretical advances. Early studies identifying the nature of educational and career interests (Strong, 1936) and their relation to abilities (Hartman & Dashiell, 1919), and career outcomes (DiMichael, 1949) are just a few examples of how early vocational psychologists applied research methods and measurement in an effort to promote effective career decision-making. Early theories of career counselling and development often guided these research efforts and were, in turn, informed and modified by empirical findings. In the last century, our discipline has amassed a considerable volume of research. Surprisingly, however, we continue to ask similar questions with respect to the nature of educational and vocational interests (Darcy & Tracey, 2007), and their relation to abilities (Tracey & Hopkins, 2001) and important academic and career outcomes (Tracey & Robbins, 2006). One of the biggest challenges faced by scientific disciplines is that of synthesising and summarising a large number of individual studies in such a way that researchers, theoreticians, and practitioners can draw meaningful conclusions. The statistical techniques of meta-analysis permit researchers to rise to this challenge and it is this topic that will be the focus of this chapter.

The goals of this chapter are twofold. First, this chapter will provide the reader with a fundamental understanding of the family of statistical analyses collectively referred to as meta-analysis. This will include an overview of the procedure, and a brief review of the steps involved in conducting a meta-analysis. Discussion of this topic will be conceptual rather than mathematical. As such, this chapter is not a comprehensive review of current issues in meta-analyses nor will it provide sufficient procedural guidance for the reader to actually conduct an analysis. Those wishing a more comprehensive coverage of current conceptual and procedural issues should refer to Hedges and Pigott (2004), Hunter and Schmidt (1990), Kline (2004), Lipsey and Wilson (2001), and Quintana and Minami (2006).


Effect Size Estimate Counseling Psychology Career Guidance Career Interest Critical Ingredient 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul A. GoreJr.
    • 1
  • Takuya Minami
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UtahUSA

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