Meta-Ethnography in Social Work Research

Thursday, January 15, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:15 PM
Balconies M, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Mary E. A. Caplan, PhD, University of Georgia
In 1988, sociologists Noblit and Hare developed the meta-ethnography as an interpretivist method to synthesize qualitative research. It has been used in the medical and nursing fields to further understand ethnographic accounts on the same or similar subjects.  As a secondary analysis of ethnographies, the method draws out patterns from multiple original ethnographies.  This enables researchers to comprehend findings of the studies in relationship to each other and often under a new lens. 

Society for Social Work Research Conference (SSWR) meetings have recently spotlighted issues in qualitative research.  In 2013 and 2014, the conference featured research method workshops on techniques to publish rigorous qualitative research and how to conduct a qualitative secondary analysis.   The proposed roundtable continues this pattern by offering participants an opportunity to learn about how meta-ethnography can be used as a social work research method.  The roundtable format is especially suited for researchers with a range of qualitative experience to discuss the mechanics, merits, challenges, and critiques of this approach in an informal setting.

The roundtable will have didactic and discussion elements.  First, the presenter will offer examples of the meta-ethnographic method in the social and health sciences literature.  The presenter will then provide participants with an example of how meta-ethnography was used in a forthcoming article in a peer-reviewed social work publication on the topic of fringe economic behavior of low-income individuals. Finally, the presenter will facilitate a conversation about the ways meta-ethnography can be employed in participants’ areas of interest.  While a primary objective of the roundtable is to disseminate information about the topic of meta-ethnography and its relevance to social work research, the secondary objective is to build community with researchers who are interested in such a method.

See more of: Roundtables