What's a meta-ethnography and how do you do it?


France E, Uny I, Ring N, Jepson R, Noyes J, Maxwell M, Duncan E, Turley R, Cunningham M & Roberts R (2018) What's a meta-ethnography and how do you do it? (Presentation) International Institute for Qualitative Methods 16th Conference, Banff, Canada, 29.04.2018-03.05.2018.

Syntheses of qualitative studies can advance understanding of people’s experiences Meta-ethnography is a seven-phase, interpretive synthesis methodology, developed by Noblit and Hare in the field of education in the 1980s, that can lead to developing novel insights and theory to inform practice, e.g. in health care). The conduct of meta-ethnography has rapidly increased in health-related research, however, the methodology is often misunderstood and/or misapplied. The analytic synthesis phases are particularly complex and poorly reported. The eMERGe project (http://emergeproject.org/), funded by the National Institute of Health Research, to develop a reporting guideline for meta-ethnography, involved (1) a methodological systematic review of guidance for meta-ethnography conduct and reporting; (2) a review and audit of published meta-ethnographies to identify good practice principles; (3) consensus studies to agree guideline content; (4) development of the guideline. The project involved expert academics, professional users of qualitative evidence syntheses, lay people and George Noblit, one of the originators of meta-ethnography, as advisors and research participants. Our analysis explored questions including: What is unique about meta-ethnography compared to other qualitative evidence synthesis methodologies? When should a meta-ethnography be the chosen methodology? How should literature be located and selected? How should we determine how studies are related? What is translation and synthesis of translations and how are they done? What is a line of argument synthesis? We explore the answers to these questions and how they informed production of a 21-item reporting guidance with a detailed explanatory document. The work represents an advancement of the meta-ethnography methodology.

FundersNational Institute for Health Research
Publication date03/05/2018
ConferenceInternational Institute for Qualitative Methods 16th Conference
Conference locationBanff, Canada