Chapter 6 Coursework

Summative assessment

If you are completing this course of study for credit, here is the summative evaluation.

Product 1: evidence maps

Design an ‘evidence map for evidence gaps’ or ‘evidence map as a geographic map’ for a topic of your choice in your expertise or domain of research.

  1. Select a topic and pilot appropriate search terms to populate a representative and reasonable set of peer-reviewed publications. Use The Web of Science or other relevant bibliometric resource. Secure at least 50 papers for first review.
  2. Review these primary studies for relevance, available data, concept of interest or hypothesis directly tested, and other criteria identified for your synthesis.
  3. Generate a PRISMA workflow diagram and briefly describe exclusion criteria.
  4. Using the included instances, compile frequency of study of key concepts of these primary studies.
  5. Identify the country of study or more specific geographic estimate of study locations.
  6. Record sample sizes of each independent trial from each study.
  7. In processing the list of studies, keep track of potential key measures, outcomes, factors, and also moderators for future and deeper synthesis work on this topic.
  8. If there is an existing systematic review on this topic or set of key terms and it was published at least 2-years ago, it is viable to update this synthesis work. Do the above steps and if a reasonable number of returns is present since date of synthesis publication (i.e. at least 50 recent primary papers), consider updating this work.
  9. Generate your evidence map.
  10. Briefly describe both the search process supporting the PRISMA workflow and the evidence map.


criteria description value
PRISMA flow chart completed, numbers reasonable, and criteria explained in brief below flow chart 10
clarity clear visual, shows data and trends in what is known and what gaps can be explore in future research 10
evidence representative, reasonable set of studies, list search terms in brief below evidence map and provide clear figure or table legend 10

Product 2: ignite commentary

Based on your synthesis work completed in product 1, provide a short < 2000 word Ignite format contribution appropriate for the journal Oikos that inspired this format of contribution to science.

  1. Identify and describe the challenge or research question(s).
  2. Succinctly summarize what is known.
  3. Describe the evidence gaps and next steps for this specific field of research.
  4. Highlight an implication of this synthesis process for readers.
  5. Cite at least 5 papers relevant to the synthesis summarized as an Ignite paper here.


criteria description value
challenge clearly state hypothesis or research challenge 5
evidence summarize what is known from your synthesis work in project 1 - ie evidence and formal but brief scoping systematic review 5
gaps list the gaps and explain next steps 5
implication given the relative difference between known and next highlight an implication for researchers to consider in this field 5
citations recent citations, a few concept papers, and a few sample primary studies 5

Product 3: meta-analysis

Complete a meta-analysis in R for a subset of your studies.

  1. Reuse the studies included in your synthesis in products above.
  2. Extract the mean, sample size, and estimate for variance associated with these measures.
  3. Compile at least 12-15 independent observations for analysis. These can be from a limited number of studies/papers provided the trials/experiments reported in a study or paper were independent. For instance, an experiment was replicated in 3 different grasslands in a paper and data were available for each. This is now commonly treated as independent replications if the ecology or science supports this. Evidence organized into papers is not necessarily single instances.
  4. Identify at least one moderator (categorical or continuous) to explore in subsequent analyses.
  5. Do a meta-analysis using metafor for simple grand mean effect of your key factor.
  6. Explore heterogeneity and bias.
  7. Repeat the meta-analysis and test your moderator.
  8. The goal only 10-15 independent rows or observations here to pilot the statistical process and interpretation for your topic.
  9. Generate a forest plot or meta-regression plot depending on your moderator.
  10. Make a table of key results.
  11. Aggregate the figure and table into a single document and provide a short 2-3 sentence interpretation.


criteria description value
data reasonable dataset collected 10
figure clear forest plot or meta-regression plot with figure legend 10
table table lists key statistics for either simple meta-analysis on grand means or with moderator 10
interpretation demonstrate that you have critically appraised and consolidated your understanding meta-analysis principles with this case study 15