Asking more of qualitative synthesis: a response to Sally Thorne
Qualitative Health Research
We continue the conversation initiated by Sally Thorne’s observations about ‘metasynthetic madness’. We note that the variety of labels used to describe qualitative syntheses often reflect authors’ disciplines and geographical locations. The purpose of systematic literature searching is to redress authors’ lack of citation of relevant earlier work and to reassure policy makers that qualitative syntheses are systematic and transparent. There is clearly a need to develop other methods of searching to supplement electronic searches. If searches produce large numbers of articles, sampling strategies may be needed to choose which articles to synthesize. The quality of any synthesis is dependent on the quality of the primary articles; both primary research and qualitative synthesis need to move beyond description and towards theory and explanation. Synthesizers need to pay attention to those articles which do not seem to fit their emerging analysis if they are to avoid stifling new ideas.
Nicky Britten, Ruth Garside and Julia Frost were partially supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC). Catherine Pope is a member of NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Wessex (CLAHRC Wessex). Chris Cooper is funded by an NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme Grant.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from SAGE Publications via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 27, Iss. 9, pp. 1370-1376