Reporting Guidance

The eMERGe Project

Developing meta-ethnography reporting guidance

To ensure that the best use is made of research evidence for the benefit of people who use health and social care services, we  carried out the eMERGe project.

The NHS needs high quality research evidence to help it design health services and make decisions affecting patients. It is widely accepted that the practice of health and social care professionals should take account of the best available research evidence. Pulling together (synthesising) evidence from many existing qualitative studies, such as those using patient interviews, is increasingly seen as important in making sense of research information. It can explain, for example, how and why health services or policies work or not, why patients or health professionals behave in a certain way, or what it is like to experience an illness. Synthesising evidence from quantitative studies, such as trials, can increase our understanding of what works but qualitative synthesis can explain why things work and explain the range of patient experiences for any specific health condition, issue or service.

The eMERGe Project

The aim of the eMERGe project, which ran from June 2015 to May 2017, was to develop a guideline to improve the way researchers report meta-ethnographies. To decide what goes into the guideline

  • we have carried out a literature review to identify and analyse published work that describes how researchers should be doing and reporting meta-ethnographies
  • have examined examples of high and low quality published meta-ethnographies to see how they were conducted and reported
  • brought together meta-ethnography experts and people who use research evidence including lay people, policy makers, and health professionals to agree the content of the guideline
  • have written and will publish a detailed document to explain how to use the guideline and how it was developed.

You can view the published protocol for this project at

The final guideline will be registered with the EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) international network and comprehensive database of reporting guidelines.

The methodological systematic review conducted has been registered with the PROSPERO international database.

We have established an online discussion forum for anyone with an interest in meta-ethnography which can be found at:

Funding, acknowledgements and disclaimer

The eMERGe project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Service and Delivery Research Programme (Grant Number 13/114/60). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HS&DR Programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.

The systematic reviews were undertaken with the support of DECIPHer, a UKCRC Public Health Research: Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council (RES-590-28-0005), Medical Research Council, the Welsh Government and the Wellcome Trust (WT087640MA), under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.