Protocol-developing meta-ethnography reporting guidelines (eMERGe)



France E, Ring NA, Noyes J, Maxwell M, Jepson R, Duncan E, Turley R, Jones D & Uny I (2015) Protocol-developing meta-ethnography reporting guidelines (eMERGe). BMC Medical Research Methodology, 15 (1), Art. No.: 103.

Background Designing and implementing high-quality health care services and interventions requires robustly synthesised evidence. Syntheses of qualitative research studies can provide evidence of patients’ experiences of health conditions; intervention feasibility, appropriateness and acceptability to patients; and advance understanding of health care issues. The unique, interpretive, theory-based meta-ethnography synthesis approach is suited to conveying patients’ views and developing theory to inform service design and delivery. However, meta-ethnography reporting is often poor quality, which discourages trust in, and use of, meta-ethnography findings. Users of evidence syntheses require reports that clearly articulate analytical processes and findings. Tailored research reporting guidelines can raise reporting standards but none exists for meta-ethnography. This study aims to create an evidence-based meta-ethnography reporting guideline articulating the methodological standards and depth of reporting required to improve reporting quality. Methods/design The mixed-methods design of this National Institute of Health Research-funded study ( follows good practice in research reporting guideline development comprising: (1) a methodological systematic review (PROSPERO registration: CRD42015024709) to identify recommendations and guidance in conducting/reporting meta-ethnography; (2) a review and audit of published meta-ethnographies to identify good practice principles and develop standards in conduct/reporting; (3) an online workshop and Delphi studies to agree guideline content with 45 international qualitative synthesis experts and 45 other stakeholders including patients; (4) development and wide dissemination of the guideline and its accompanying detailed explanatory document, a report template for National Institute of Health Research commissioned meta-ethnographies, and training materials on guideline use. Discussion Meta-ethnography, devised in the field of education, is now used widely in other disciplines. Methodological advances relevant to meta-ethnography conduct exist. The extent of discipline-specific adaptations of meta-ethnography and the fit of any adaptions with the underpinning philosophy of meta-ethnography require investigation. Well-reported meta-ethnography findings could inform clinical decision-making. A bespoke meta-ethnography reporting guideline is needed to improve reporting quality, but to be effective potential users must know it exists, trust it and use it. Therefore, a rigorous study has been designed to develop and promote a guideline. By raising reporting quality, the guideline will maximise the likelihood that high-quality meta-ethnographies will contribute robust evidence to improve health care and patient outcomes.

Reporting guideline; Meta-ethnography; Qualitative review or synthesis; Qualitative research; Evidence-based practice; Systematic review

BMC Medical Research Methodology: Volume 15, Issue 1

FundersNational Institute for Health Research
Publication date25/11/2015
Publication date online25/11/2015
Date accepted by journal10/09/2015
PublisherBioMed Central Ltd

People (4)


Professor Edward Duncan
Professor Edward Duncan

Professor, NMAHP

Dr Emma France
Dr Emma France

Associate Professor, Health Sciences Stirling

Professor Margaret Maxwell
Professor Margaret Maxwell

Director of NMAHP Research Unit, NMAHP

Dr Isabelle Uny
Dr Isabelle Uny

Research Fellow, Institute for Social Marketing

Projects (1)