Research synthesis is central to the scientific enterprise as it allows for the integration of findings across levels such as various studies, data sources, sites, time periods; it thus advances our knowledge, uncovers emerging properties, creates generalizations, and/or resolve conflicts. However, if they are not conducted in a systematic way, they are likely to produce bias or even erroneous conclusions.

During the training, we will learn to conduct systematic syntheses, based on data (qualitative or quantitative) or literature. We will see that the systematic approach provides also new type of results, which will give you an outstanding set of skills in the field of prehistoric archaeology.


The workshop will prepare participants to conduct all steps of scientific research synthesis:

  • the development of participant-specific hypotheses and their limits.
  • planning the workflow of your synthesis.
  • conducting an efficient and scientific literature/data search
  • using the tools for literature synthesis – find the narrative.
  • using the tools to conduct meta-analysis.
  • analyse your meta-analysis.
  • be critical of another synthesis.


During the outlined course, we will provide an in-depth introduction to the concepts, tools, possibilities and potential pitfalls of the different methods of research synthesis (incl. narrative/systematic reviews)– tailored to the needs and research focus of the participants from the ICArEHB. As a group, we will discuss commonalities in human evolution and prehistoric research that will allow to identify ‘hidden’ quantitative data in qualitative information. The course is structured along a working example to learn and perform the different steps of a standard meta-analysis: hypothesis formulation, literature search, data extraction, statistical analysis, assessment of potential bias and presentation of results. Each step will be introduced by a lecture, followed by the joint working example. At the end, the group of participants will have developed potential topics for their own research synthesis, conducted a guided meta-analysis and will be able to critically evaluate the quality of published research synthesis papers.


Dr. Christian Ristok is an associated researcher in Experimental Interaction Ecology at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and University Leipzig, Germany. He obtained his PhD on “Biodiversity effects on plant metabolomes in different environmental contexts” and is involved in (inter-)national and interdisciplinary research synthesis projects (www.feda.bio/en/faktencheck-artenvielfalt). He regularly teaches introductory courses on statistics and R for the MLU, UFZ and iDiv.
Learn more about Christian here.
Dr. Stephan Kambach is a postdoc at the Institute for Geobotany/Botanical Garden at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). He obtained his PhD on “Meta-analysis in forest biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research” and he has worked for the German Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. He is involved in international and interdisciplinary research projects (www.sesync.org/research/lu-bd-es-trade-offs, project.fundiveurope.eu, biodiv-feedbacks.org) and he regularly teaches introductory courses on statistics and R for the MLU, UFZ and iDiv. In 2017, he supervised a two-week summer school meta-analysis course that resulted in a joint publication for all participants.
Learn more about Stephan here.
Prof. Tim Kohler is an archaeologist of Washington State University, USA, known primarily for his contributions to understanding the prehispanic history of the US Southwest, for developing approaches to computational archaeology, and for synthetic and policy-relevant approaches to prehistory. He directed excavations in Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico, as well as the long-standing Village Ecodynamics Project. The VEP developed computational models and new empirical methods to reconstruct paleodemography, subsistence, settlement, conflict, and polity growth among Puebloan farmers in the first and early second millennium CE. A key contribution was the development high-resolution, climate-driven paleoproductivity models for maize in the upland Southwest which in turn allowed identification of notable cyclicity in prehispanic construction. Determining causes for this cyclicity (including the famous depopulation of the northern Southwest in the late 1200s), and identifi¬cation of early warning signals for terminations, remain his active areas of investigation. Because rising wealth inequality is implicated in these cycles, he has also worked to measure prehistoric wealth inequality in the Southwest, and worldwide, and to assess the causes and consequences of variability in wealth inequality, publishing landmark papers and leading a key paper precisely using a synthetic approach (Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and Mesoamerica, Nature 2017).
Learn more about Tim here.

Training specifics: 

The course is relatively intense and compact; it will take place for the selected participants, exclusively in presential in Faro, from Tuesday 12th of December 2023 at 9:00 until Friday 15th of December 2023 17:00.
The training will combine lectures and practical sessions (on computer).
Max. 20 participants. Researchers and archaeologists in prehistory and human evolution.
Participants are invited to bring their laptop to run practical exercises in their own environment. 
Duration: 24 hours.

Mode of training and location: 

The training will combine lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and practical sessions (on the computer and in the laboratory). 
The course is relatively intense and compact, it will be available only in person in the facilities of the University of Algarve, Faro, Portugal. 


Registration is free. No costs for practical labs.
Travel, accommodation, and subsistence costs are at the charge of the participants.
Interested participants must fill in the form below, including a CV, until the 10th of September 2023
If more than 20 applications are received, selected participants will be invited and others will be on waiting list. 

Register here