Qualitative meta-synthesis: a guide for the novice
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Qualitative meta-synthesis: a guide for the novice

Kenneth W Finlayson Research assistant, Department of Midwifery Studies, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Annie Dixon Senior lecturer, Department of Midwifery Studies, University of Central Lancashire, UK

The emerging field of qualitative synthesis is an exciting area of research with the potential to influence policy and practice. It is also saturated with a variety of unresolved philosophical, terminological and methodological discussions which may seem daunting to the novice researcher. This article by Kenneth Finlayson and Annie Dixon attempts to clarify some of the more controversial issues and, by providing a set of guidelines, hopes to encourage novices to enter this stimulating environment with confidence and understanding

An ancient Buddhist parable details the attempts of several blind men to describe an elephant. On feeling the trunk, one proclaims it to be rather like a snake; while another, on feeling the ear, explains it is more like a fan; yet another, upon touching the legs, describes the beast as tree-like, and so on. Each makes valid and relevant claims in relation to the elephant but only when the findings of all contributors are combined does a clear image of the animal emerge (Ireland 1997).

Nurse Researcher. 15, 2, 59-71. doi: 10.7748/nr2008.

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