Session: A Meta-Ethnography Workshop: Exploring the Method Most Employed in Qualitative Research Synthesis (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

221 A Meta-Ethnography Workshop: Exploring the Method Most Employed in Qualitative Research Synthesis

Saturday, January 19, 2019: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Continental Parlor 8, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
James Drisko, PhD, Smith College, Melissa Weise, MSW, Smith College and Alison Mitchell, MSW, Smith College
Background/ Purpose: Synthesizing qualitative research is a useful way to extend the scope, quality and conceptual innovation of individual qualitative studies. Noblit & Hare's (1998) meta-ethnography (ME) is the most widely employed method of qualitative research synthesis across disciplines (Campbell, et al., 2011). Publications using ME are also increasing in frequency. ME is an interpretive approach to qualitative research synthesis, employed where aggregation of qualitative data is not possible or appropriate. Interpretative syntheses seek instead to maintain an emic understanding of data, concepts and explanatory frameworks through an iterative, inductive process. Further, most other variants of interpretive synthesis draw heavily on techniques derived from ME. However, ME is not often taught to social work researchers. This workshop offers in-depth and applied information about an under-studied but important topic.

Methods: This workshop will describe the purposes and uses of ME. The seven steps of ME are the explicated, and each step is illustrated using exemplar studies. These steps are similar to those of quantitative systematic reviews addressing: a) defining the topic, b) setting parameters for the search and study quality, c) comprehensively searching the literature, d) reviewing study quality, e) extracting key concepts and/or interpretations, f) synthesizing the extracting material, and g) writing up the study methods and results. Toye et al. (2014) have recently reviewed these steps, affirming their utility. ME's three core analytic techniques include a) reciprocal translation where studies address similar content but use different concepts and language; b) refutational analysis where studies diverge in both results and language; and c) lines of argument synthesis where similar content is addressed but in ways that only minimally overlap–excluding reciprocal translation. The application of each technique will be addressed in detail using published exemplars (Atkins et al., 2008; Pylyser, et al., 2017). Documenting and maintaining a close, emic, connection between the original works and the ME syntheses will be emphasized. Challenges in data extraction and synthesis are addressed.

Some closely related training opportunities will also be examined in the workshop. The challenges of locating qualitative studies will be explored, including search tools and the limitations to database keywords cataloguing qualitative studies. Useful search approaches are detailed. The lack of consensus definitions for qualitative methods poses challenges to such searches and also study quality review. Three approaches to assessing study quality will be examined, including checklist and internal coherence models. Finally, strategies for summarizing and writing up ME results are described. France et al.'s (2015) protocol for ME quality assessment is discussed.

Results/Implications: Social workers are authors of ME and similar synthesis models but are rarely educated on them in degree programs. This workshop is intended to build knowledge and impact future research rigor.

Teaching Methods: Workshop content will be addressed didactically using published examples to identify dilemmas, processes and choice points. Participants will receive a list of published ME syntheses and related literature search, study quality appraisal and ME methodological techniques. The topics listed above are addressed and illustrated, with time for questions and discussion.

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