Instant meta-analysis

With a new scholarly search engine, business professor Piers Steel looks to change the science of human resource management.

By Ashley Tymko
May 2015

In the scientific community, research doubles every nine years and thousands of articles get published daily. Yet, there is no system in place to comprehensively organize all of that data. The lack of readily available information causes many researchers to spend years collecting past data for their studies or it pushes them towards a specialization in their field.

On April 25, 2015, metaBUS, a Google-type search engine, was unveiled to the scientific community at the 30th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) in Philadelphia. MetaBUS is a groundbreaking research tool with the capacity to transform the speed of social science research.

"One dreams of being on a project that can change how science is done."

Piers Steel, a professor in human resources and organizational dynamics at the Haskayne School of Business, and his collaborators Frank Bosco from Virginia Commonwealth University and Krista Uggerslev from NAIT, have teamed up for the past three years to make metaBUS a reality.

“One dreams of being on a project that can change how science is done on a very fundamental level. This system will enable new scientific techniques to be born,” says Steel, who is the Distinguished Research Chair in Advanced Business Leadership at the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business.

It’s simple: researchers and practitioners log in to the metaBUS website, search ideas of interest as defined by a taxonomic map of the field of industrial and organizational psychology and human resources, and conduct instant meta-analyses — a valuable but previously time-consuming mainstay of social science research.

“MetaBUS doubles our power of experiments because we can automatically give you the control group without your having to gather it yourself,” Steel says. “Right now, meta-analysis could potentially take years. By using metaBUS, meta-analysis will take minutes and puts the focus on curating new knowledge rather than trying to sift through past findings.”

The Haskayne School of Business Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business (CCAL) was the first to fund this innovative project. The research team has also received the support of multinational funding from the Digging into Data Competition supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), and from the SHRM Foundation (U.S.).

The team hopes to launch a fully functional metaBUS in January 2016. “Our goal is to make this project sustainable and to grow to cover findings from every scientific field; to be the gateway of science,” says Steel. 



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