Sim, J and Mengshoel, AM (2022) Metasynthesis: issues of empirical and theoretical context. Quality & Quantity. ISSN 0033-5177

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Metasynthesis is an approach to synthesizing primary qualitative research, and may take either an aggregative or an interpretive approach. In either case, the resulting synthesis inevitably occurs at a remove from both the empirical and the theoretical contexts of the original research. We argue that seeking to retain these contexts in the synthesis poses specific challenges. Thus, the empirical context of an original study and the individuality of participants’ first-order accounts will be incompletely and selectively represented in a published study, and will be further out of reach at the level of synthesis. Syntheses should therefore be faithful to, but not seek to reproduce, the empirical context of the primary studies. As regards theoretical context, accommodating the concepts and the broader theoretical frameworks of primary studies may require potentially divergent philosophical assumptions to be reconciled with each other and with the theoretical standpoint of the synthesist. Selecting studies where these assumptions are compatible, at the level of both theory and methodology, may lessen this challenge. Some metasyntheses seek to integrate not just concepts but also theories (metatheorizing), but here the challenges of philosophical and theoretical compatibility are more acute, and the means of achieving such integration appear to be underdeveloped.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R735 Medical education. Medical schools. Research
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2022 14:47
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2022 14:47

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