A meta analysis is one of the typical modes of writing that will be required of students in college. It is also one of the favored methods of writing that will be utilized by instructors since it demands that students perform very specific rhetorical or writerly moves. A meta analysis happens in two distinct stages: a preliminary analysis and then the meta analysis.
To understand how to perform a meta analysis, one first has to understand the term "meta." Meta is a Greek prefix that means "after" or "beyond." Therefore, when a writer performs a meta analysis, he is going after or beyond the analysis that has come before. What that means is that a writer must analyze their previously written analysis concerning a subject. In short, they must write an analysis about their analysis.
Stage 1: The Analysis
The first stage of a meta analysis is the preliminary analysis. What ever the subject is that is being written about: a book, a movie, or a newspaper article (all common subjects for writing in college), a writer must approach the analysis of that subject with the knowledge that he/she already processes. No research or expertise is required; only a thorough and thoughtful response to the material at hand.
Stage 2: The Meta Analysis
The second stage of a meta analysis is the stage where a writer goes "after" what has already been written and produces knowledge "beyond" what they previously knew. At this stage, prior to writing, research and a deeper exploration of the topic at hand helps deepen an awareness not just of the subject but of the writers knowledge or lack thereof concerning that subject. It is often at this stage where writers are forced to explain themselves better, understand themselves with a keener eye, and challenge their own assumptions or forgone conclusions, especially if a writer is analyzing their own beliefs or opinions.
Stage 3,4, & So On: Going Deeper
After Stage One and Two, a meta analysis is effectively completed. However, if a writer, or an instructor for that matter, wants to delve deeper into an understanding of both the material and the writer's ability to analyze material, then Stage Two can be repeated for Stage 3, 4, and so on. This is simply done by analyzing the analysis that has come before: defining or redefining terms, challenging or correcting assumptions, and researching and uncovering new information.