Excel-ent meta-analysis

Perform meta-analyses inside Excel with this free add-on.

We admit that hearing the term "meta-analysis" always leads us to imagine Groucho saying, "I never met a nalysis I didn't like," but the technique of combining the results of several studies to achieve a more accurate overview of the subject is nothing funny to statisticians. MIX 2.0 Lite is a free add-on for Microsoft Excel that performs professional-level meta-analyses from Excel's ribbon. It offers more than 20 built-in datasets taken from published methods, plus a data wizard that cites book and page number for users who want to look it up themselves. We tried MIX in Excel from Office 2010.

We opened Excel and then clicked MIX 2.0 Lite's executable, which installed the add-on as a tab on Excel's ribbon toolbar. We clicked the tab, which brought up MIX's controls on the ribbon. We clicked Start MIX on the Main button and received the program's setup data wizard. Our options were to start the wizard, view tutorials, check for updates, and upgrade to the paid version. We opted to start the data wizard. It offered a drop-down list containing four books to choose from and another list from which to select datasets from the books. The books are Borenstein et al, Sutton et al, Egger et al, and Glasziou et al. We made our choices and created a Workbook to save them in with the help of another small wizard. The statistical presentations were all fine and clear, with no clutter or issues related to the spreadsheet's functionality. However, that's as far as we were able to take MIX 2.0 Lite. This sophisticated tool certainly wasn't lacking--quite the opposite: our understanding of statistics in general and meta-analysis in particular wasn't up the job.

What we can say about MIX 2.0 is that it definitely makes it easy to apply meta-analysis to Excel. It's certainly not for statistical dabblers and dilettantes, though. If you're an Excel user who is fairly well-versed in statistics and meta-analysis, we highly recommend this free add-on.

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