Using the Normal Quantile Plot to Explore Meta-Analytic Data Sets

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Abstract

In a meta-analysis, graphical displays can be used to check statistical assumptions for numerical procedures and they can be used to discover important patterns in the data. The authors propose the normal quantile plot as a preferred alternative to the funnel plot for such purposes. The normal quantile plot, like the funnel plot, can be used to investigate whether all studies come from a single population and to search for publication bias. However, the normal quantile plot is easier to interpret than the funnel plot, especially when it includes 95% confidence bands. In addition, the normal quantile plot can be used to check the normality assumption for numerical procedures. The funnel plot cannot be used for this latter purpose.

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