Social scientists are producing an ever-growing stream of research findings, which is becoming ever more difficult to oversee. As a result, capitalization on earlier investment is declining and the accumulation of knowledge is stagnating. This situation calls for more research synthesis and interest in techniques for research synthesis is on the rise.
To date, attention has been focused on statistical methods for meta-analysis, with little attention paid to the preliminary step of bringing the available research findings together. What we need is 1) techniques for describing research findings in a comparable way, 2) a system for storing such descriptions in an easily accessible archive, 3) a means to add research findings to this system on a continuous basis.
The World Database of Happiness is an example of such a tool. The archive is tailored to meet the requirements of assembling research findings on happiness in the sense of the subjective enjoyment of one’s life-as-a-whole. The archive includes both distributional findings (how happy people are) and correlational findings (what things go together with happiness).
With its focus on 'findings', this system differs from data-archives that store 'investigations' and from bibliographies that store 'publications'. As yet, there is no established term to describe this type of tool for research synthesis. I call it a 'findings archive'. In this paper, I describe how it works and illustrate its use with an overview of research findings on two topics: 1) the relation between happiness and air-pollution and 2) the relation between happiness and economic growth.
Key words: literature review, research synthesis, methodology, research archive, comparative analysis, happiness, life satisfaction, subjective wellbeing, quality of life, air-pollution, economic growth.