metaBUS was founded by three professors who, like their colleagues the world over, were individually struggling with problems that were crippling the scientific field, but together found ways to not only overcome them but make science available and understandable for everyone. Even for dedicated academics, finding answers to basic questions was ridiculously hard. Relevant research was hidden within thousands of often inaccessible journals extending over scores of years. With any single study often unreliable and sporadically replicable, putting it together was arduous, with individuals spending years to summarize the most straightforward of relationships. In many fields, the scientific process was breaking down because of this, as few knew what had been done or how the work fit together.
All three were experts in meta-analysis, a rigorous method for statistically summarizing a scientific field, useful for getting a grip on any topic. They had done foundational pieces on improving the process as well as applying it to specific issues, like recruitment, culture, happiness and procrastination. These meta-analyses were painstakingly piecemeal, handcrafted and one-time applications to specific problems. Counter-intuitively, they thought “Instead of making it smaller, what if we made it bigger?” Way bigger. Frank Bosco, with his colleagues Jamie Field and Kulraj Singh, started OPERATION CODEFIELD, a content-analysis that contained ALL the results from two major applied psychology journals. Piers Steel was directing the Canadian Centre of Advanced Leadership in Business (CCAL) to summarize ALL the research on leadership. Krista Uggerslev had put together one of Canada’s largest and best funded social science meta-analytic projects.
When they met and saw each other’s efforts, they were emboldened. Collectively, they asked the question, “What if we made it bigger still? What if we summarized not only one topic, a set of journals, or a single field, but all of science?” Building off Frank’s OPERATION CODEFIELD database, using resources from Piers’ CCAL institute and the grant raising, team coordinating and meta-analytic skills of Krista, they shot for the moon. metaBUS is an ongoing effort to put all the results of science in an instantly and transparently searchable form that summarizes all that has been done and provides it to anyone – from a professional statistician to high school student – at a level customized so that they actually understand it. In what could be described as the age of answers, the world’s collective scientific knowledge immediately focuses on any question available to anyone at a click of a button. How well did they succeed? That’s something you can answer yourself; just pose a question: www.metabus.org.