Qualitative analysis can be done in a variety of ways, such as literature review, systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-synthesis. The first three types of qualitative analysis have been in practice for many years, but meta-analysis is a relatively new approach. Thus, this article will first discuss the concept of meta-synthesis, qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis (QMIS), and its important steps along with limitations.
What Is Meta-Synthesis In Qualitative Research?
Meta-synthesis is the process of bringing textual data together to propose a new interpretation in a particular field. It is relatively a new field of bringing together a wide variety of literature to study a phenomenon. This is quite different from a meta-analysis. Meta-analysis is the process of testing a hypothesis using qualitative data, while meta-synthesis is a coherent and intentional approach to analysing information across already published qualitative studies. Thus, meta-synthesis is the process that allows researchers to identify specific research questions and answer them by searching, selecting, appraising, summarising and combining the qualitative bodies of literature.
Meta-synthesis in qualitative research includes six steps:
- Formulation of research questions
- Defining the inclusion as well as exclusion criteria
- Selection of the scholarly articles according to inclusion criteria
- Screening the quality of the information in the selected literature
- Extraction and formal representation of the data in the form of analysis
- Analysis of data to express the synthesis
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What Is Interpretive Meta-Synthesis For Qualitative Studies?
Qualitative interpretative meta-synthesis (QIMS) is not a systematic review and literature review, but it aims to create a synergy of all published qualitative studies on a topic. QIMS is the fusion of three words ‘interpretative’, means it avoids the duplicated findings qualitatively, while ‘meta’ refers to a change in position or condition, and ‘synthesis’ refers to the combinations of unique ideas to form a system or theory.
Thus, qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis is the process of combining a group of studies to create a deeper, broad, and new understanding of a particular topic, where the position of each individual study is changed from the individual’s knowledge. In simple words, QIMS uses the person-in-environment approach to deeply understand a phenomenon. Qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis (QIMS) uses multiple qualitative data analysis approaches for linking all reported but relevant data to extract new information in the field of social work. It involves a detailed process for developing a synergistic understanding of the topic of interest.
Steps In Qualitative Interpretive Meta-Analysis
Qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis (QIMS), like meta-analysis, consists of a series of steps. It starts from the formulation of a research questions rather than the formulation of a hypothesis, as in meta-analysis. The variable and concepts involved in the research question are then answered by exploring the relevant studies for the collection of useful evidence (sampling). After sampling, the next step is the extraction of information from the selected literature and identifying the characteristics to mention in a synthesis table.
The synthesis tables explain all the necessary information to answer the research question or to collect data about the defined characteristics of the phenomenon under study. At this point, the last thing left behind is creating a story for developing a synergistic understanding of a topic. Thus, the steps involved in the qualitative interpretive meta-analysis, along with their brief description, are as follows:
In QMIS, sampling is a combinatorial approach using theoretical and purposive sampling- a relatively common practice in qualitative research design. The initial search for literature is purposive that is followed by theoretical sampling. Theoretical sampling helps researchers in testing and screening information in the selected articles. The sources for data collection or sampling include systematic reviews, databases, and official websites of reputed organisations.
Extract The Useful Information:
After searching for all the sources of information that seem relevant to a topic under study, the next step must be to extract useful information from it. At first, it is the inclusion/exclusion criteria that decide whether you should consider a piece of information useful for your study or not.
Once you select all the sources, you must consider some things like context, tradition, fatal flaws, and temporal relevance. Thus, if a source of information does not have any fatal flaw, its content addresses the facts that you are looking for and does not has vast traditional differences, then you can consider the source valuable for your studies.
Sampling and screening of data must be followed by extraction of themes from the selected literature. For this, you should make a table having different sections for studying characteristics, demographics, methodology and findings. After this, you should read selected studies to identify the metaphors, terms, phrases, and concepts. It helps the researcher in identifying all the key themes in a study.
Synthesis Of Themes
Once a researcher identifies all the key themes in all selected studies, the next step must be to synthesis ideas to present his own interpretation to develop a synergistic understanding. This step includes the translation of all studies to logically connect them to draw useful consequences without losing the integrity of each individual study. You can even get masters dissertation help in case of any issues.
Triangulation: Synergistic Understanding
Triangulation is the method to ensure that the translation in qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis is regulated synergistically rather than with a biased or disordered understanding. Thus, at this step, you just need to verify the synergistic nature of synthesis in QIMS.
Description Of Synergistic Understanding
The last step in qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis is the selection of the most suitable words to present the synergistic understanding. This phase is relatively subjective and highly depends on the researcher’s interpersonal skills.
Limitations Of Qualitative Interpretive Meta-Synthesis:
Like all other methods, qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis also has a set of limitations in terms of data gathering, biasness and analysis. In QMIS, the uncontested questions and subjectivity of data analysis cause biasness. No doubt, all researches are the subject of biasness to some degree, but the researcher must know the potential ways to avoid biasness associated with the selected research design.
Other limitations of QIMS are the high reflection of tradition on the content analysis as it uses the person-in-environment approach. In simple words, the effect of different aspects of the researcher’s tradition is very prominent in synergistic understanding in QMIS.
In conclusion, unlike other forms of secondary qualitative analysis methods, qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis primarily focuses on the synergistic understanding of a topic under study. Six well-defined steps help researchers to achieve the aims. These steps include sampling, extracting useful information, theme extraction, synthesis of themes, triangulation: synergistic understanding and description of synergistic understanding. Also, subjectivity, biasness and vast diversity in traditions are some limitations associated with qualitative interpretive meta-synthesis.