Improving reporting of meta-ethnography: the eMERGe reporting guidance



France EF, Cunningham M, Ring N, Uny I, Duncan EAS, Jepson RG, Maxwell M, Roberts RJ, Turley RL, Booth A, Britten N, Flemming K, Gallagher I, Garside R & Hannes K (2019) Improving reporting of meta-ethnography: the eMERGe reporting guidance. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 19, Art. No.: 25.

Aims: The aim of this study was to provide guidance to improve the completeness and clarity of meta-ethnography reporting. Background: Evidence-based policy and practice require robust evidence syntheses which can further understanding of people’s experiences and associated social processes. Meta-ethnography is a rigorous seven-phase qualitative evidence synthesis methodology, developed by Noblit and Hare. Meta-ethnography is used widely in health research,but reporting is often poor quality and this discourages trust in and use of its findings. Meta-ethnography reporting guidance is needed to improve reporting quality. Design: The eMERGe study used a rigorous mixed-methods design and evidence-based methods to develop the novel reporting guidance and explanatory notes. Methods: The study, conducted from 2015 to 2017, comprised of: (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) international, multidisciplinary consensus-building processes to agree guidance content;(4) innovative development of the guidance and explanatory notes. Findings: Recommendations and good practice for all seven phases of meta-ethnography conduct and reporting were newly identified leading to 19 reporting criteria and accompanying detailed guidance. Conclusion: The bespoke eMERGe Reporting Guidance, which incorporates new methodological developments and advances the methodology, can help researchers to report the important aspects of meta-ethnography. Use of the guidance should raise reporting quality. Better reporting could make assessments of confidence in the findings more robust and increase use of meta-ethnography outputs to improve practice, policy, and service user outcomes in health and other fields. This is the first tailored reporting guideline for meta-ethnography. This article is being simultaneously published in the following journals:Journal of Advanced Nursing, Psycho-oncology, Review of Education,and BMC Medical Research Methodology.

Guideline; Meta-ethnography; Nursing; Publication standards; Qualitative evidence synthesis; Qualitative research; Reporting; Research design; Systematic review;

Additional co-authors: Simon Lewin, George W Noblit, Catherine Pope, James Thomas, Meredith Vanstone, Gina M A Higginbottom and Jane Noyes

BMC Medical Research Methodology: Volume 19

FundersNational Institute for Health Research
Publication date31/01/2019
Publication date online31/01/2019
Date accepted by journal15/07/2018
PublisherSpringer Nature

People (2)


Professor Margaret Maxwell

Professor Margaret Maxwell

Professor, NMAHP

Dr Isabelle Uny

Dr Isabelle Uny

Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Social Marketing

Projects (1)