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Improving reporting of meta-ethnography: The eMERGe reporting guidance

France, Emma F.; Cunningham, Maggie; Ring, Nicola; Uny, Isabelle; Duncan, Edward A. S.; Jepson, Ruth G.; Maxwell, Margaret; Roberts, Rachel J.; Turley, Ruth L.; Booth, Andrew; Britten, Nicky; Flemming, Kate; Gallagher, Ian; Garside, Ruth; Hannes, Karin; Lewin, Simon; Noblit, George W.; Pope, Catherine; Higginbottom, Gina M. A.; Thomas, James; Vanstone, Meredith; Higginbottom, Gina M. A.; Noyes, Jane


Emma F. France

Maggie Cunningham

Isabelle Uny

Edward A. S. Duncan

Ruth G. Jepson

Margaret Maxwell

Rachel J. Roberts

Ruth L. Turley

Andrew Booth

Nicky Britten

Kate Flemming

Ian Gallagher

Ruth Garside

Karin Hannes

Simon Lewin

George W. Noblit

Catherine Pope

Gina M. A. Higginbottom

James Thomas

Meredith Vanstone

Gina M. A. Higginbottom

Jane Noyes


The aim of this study was to provide guidance to improve the completeness and clarity of meta‐ethnography reporting.
Evidence‐based policy and practice require robust evidence syntheses which can further understanding of people's experiences and associated social processes. Meta‐ethnography is a rigorous seven‐phase qualitative evidence synthesis methodology, developed by Noblit and Hare. Meta‐ethnography is used widely in health research, but reporting is often poor quality and this discourages trust in and use of its findings. Meta‐ethnography reporting guidance is needed to improve reporting quality.
The eMERGe study used a rigorous mixed‐methods design and evidence‐based methods to develop the novel reporting guidance and explanatory notes.
The study, conducted from 2015 to 2017, comprised of: (1) a methodological systematic review of guidance for meta‐ethnography conduct and reporting; (2) a review and audit of published meta‐ethnographies to identify good practice principles; (3) international, multidisciplinary consensus‐building processes to agree guidance content; (4) innovative development of the guidance and explanatory notes.
Recommendations and good practice for all seven phases of meta‐ethnography conduct and reporting were newly identified leading to 19 reporting criteria and accompanying detailed guidance.
The bespoke eMERGe Reporting Guidance, which incorporates new methodological developments and advances the methodology, can help researchers to report the important aspects of meta‐ethnography. Use of the guidance should raise reporting quality. Better reporting could make assessments of confidence in the findings more robust and increase use of meta‐ethnography outputs to improve practice, policy, and service user outcomes in health and other fields. This is the first tailored reporting guideline for meta‐ethnography. This article is being simultaneously published in the following journals: Journal of Advanced Nursing, Psycho‐oncology, Review of Education, and BMC Medical Research Methodology


France, E. F., Cunningham, M., Ring, N., Uny, I., Duncan, E. A. S., Jepson, R. G., …Noyes, J. (2019). Improving reporting of meta-ethnography: The eMERGe reporting guidance. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 19(1), Article 25.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 3, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2019
Publication Date Dec 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 23, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 5, 2019
Journal BMC Medical Research Methodology
Electronic ISSN 1471-2288
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 1
Article Number 25
Keywords Guideline, meta‐ethnography, nursing, publication standards, qualitative evidencesynthesis, qualitative research, reporting, research design
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Improving Reporting Of Meta-ethnography: The EMERGe Reporting Guidance (1 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0<br /> International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver<br /> ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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