ON-LINE ‘FINDINGS-ARCHIVE’: A new tool for research synthesis

Ruut Veenhoven, Ivonne Buijt and Martijn J. Burger

EHERO Working Paper 2021-5
Erasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands

Social scientists are producing an ever-growing stream of research findings, which is increasingly difficult to oversee. As a result, capitalization on earlier investment is declining and accumulation of knowledge stagnating. This situation calls for more research synthesis and interest in techniques to produce these syntheses is on the rise. Attention has been focused on statistical techniques for meta-analysis, with little attention paid to the preliminary step of gathering the available research findings together. What is needed is 1) a technique for describing research findings in a comparable way, 2) a system for storing such descriptions in an online archive, 3) to which research findings can be added on a continuous basis, and 4) that can serve as a virtual appendix for review papers. These demands are met by the World Database of Happiness, which is tailored to facilitate the assembling of research findings on happiness. With its focus on 'findings' the system differs from data-archives designed to store 'investigations' and from bibliographies that store 'publications'. As yet there is no established term used to describe this research synthesis tool. We call it a 'finding archive'. In this paper we explain how the technique works and show how an on-line findings-archive can be used in review papers. We note how the technique can be applied on subjects other than happiness.

Key words: literature review, review technique, research synthesis, outcome archive, comparative analysis, happiness, life satisfaction, subjective wellbeing, quality of life

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