The good, the bad, and the aggregate.


Journal Article

To evaluate progress and focus goals, scientific disciplines need to identify relations that are robust across many situations. One approach is the literature review, which characterizes generality across studies. Some writers (e.g., Baron & Derenne, 2000) claim that quantitative literature reviews, but not narrative reviews, violate the methodological precepts of behavior analysis by pooling data from nonidentical studies. We argue that it is impossible to assess generality without varying the context in which relationships are studied. Properly chosen data-aggregation strategies can reveal which behavior-environment relations are general and which are procedure dependent. Within behavior analysis, reluctance to conduct quantitative reviews may reflect unsupported assumptions about the consequences of aggregating data across studies. Whether specific data-aggregation techniques help or harm a research program is an empirical issue that cannot be resolved by unstructured discussion. Some examples of how aggregation has been used in identifying behavior-environment relations are examined.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Critchfield, TS; Newland, MC; Kollins, SH

Published Date

  • 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 107 - 115

PubMed ID

  • 22478342

Pubmed Central ID

  • 22478342

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0738-6729

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/bf03392005


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Switzerland