Improving reporting of meta-ethnography: The eMERGe reporting guidance

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 2015-2017, 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, multi-disciplinary 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 nineteen 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Early online date15 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2019


  • meta-ethnography
  • reporting
  • guideline
  • qualitative evidence synthesis
  • systematic review
  • publication standards
  • nursing
  • qualitative research
  • research design


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