The Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy (DRIC) in conjunction with the Data Science Unit of the School of Agriculture, has organised a three-day workshop on Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
The workshop which was attended by faculty members from the University and postgraduate students was aimed at promoting good and objective management of research data to inform policy.
Systematic Review Key aspect of Data Management
Opening the workshop, the Dean of the School of Agriculture, Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako, said Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis was the current approach in conducting research that every academic, especially those in science-related disciplines should understand. He indicated that in recent times all disciplines were adopting this approach because of its encompassing nature in reviewing and analysing results. “Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis is, therefore, a key aspect of data management and the best way to go,” he noted.
Prof. Asare-Bediako indicated that data management was very crucial in research, dissemination of knowledge, and informing policies and as a result, the School of Agriculture established the Data Science Unit to serve as a databank for faculty and students. He called on participants to take the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the concept.
On his part, the Director of DRIC, Prof. Frederick Ato Armah said the workshop would serve as a groundbreaking experience for lecturers and postgraduate students who were yet to familiarise themselves with the concept. He noted that in terms of hierarchy, Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis provided very credible evidence to inform policy. “This is because it eliminates bias with quality control and it builds confidence in the results or findings of the research work,” he stressed.
Prof. Armah said one of DRIC’s mandate was to build the capacity of staff and students of the University hence it’s partnership with the Data Science Unit to organise the workshop. He indicated that the topics outlined for the workshop would help participants to share ideas to advance their careers as academics.
Relevance of the Workshop
A Senior Lecturer of Plant Physiology and Crop Improvement at the Department of Crop Science, Dr. Michael Osei Adu noted that the course was intended for postgraduate students, faculty and research fellows who have demonstrated interest in scientific reviews and meta-analysis and would like to learn their methodologies. Dr. Adu who was a facilitator at the workshop was confident that postgraduate students would employ the concept in the Literature Review Sections of their thesis. The workshop addressed Systematic reviews and Meta-analysis through lectures, group discussions, and activities.
According to Dr. Adu, “Research evidence synthesis is the review of primary research on a given topic with the purpose of integrating the findings, creating generalizations and resolving uncertainties.” He explained that evidence synthesis enabled researchers to search for and bring together all relevant information on a given research question in order to establish an evidence base to guide best-practice, identify knowledge gaps, or inform policy.
Importance of Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis
Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis are powerful statistical methodologies used for synthesising research evidence across independent studies. “Unlike narrative reviews, Systematic reviews allow qualitative analyses, and when combined with Meta-analysis, allow quantitative analyses of the magnitude of effects and have a high degree of objectivity because they are based on a standardized set of procedures” he added. He further explained that Systematic reviews and Meta-analysis were originally developed in Medicine and Social Sciences, but were now widely applied in areas such as Ecology, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
Speakers for the workshop include a Senior Lecturer of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Kofi Amegah, and Senior Lecturer in Environmental Epidemiology and Health at the Department of Biological, Environmental and Occupational Health of the University of Ghana, Dr Reginald Quansah. Present was the Coordinator of the Data Science Unit, Dr Josiah Wilson Tachie-Menson