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Table 2 Summary of characteristics of different methods of updating the analysis and synthesis in a meta-ethnography

From: Why, when and how to update a meta-ethnography qualitative synthesis


Method of updating the analysis and synthesis in a meta-ethnography


Extend and renovate the house (add to and revise original)

Build a new house next door (do a new standalone meta-ethnography and compare to original)

Knock the house down and rebuild it (start again from scratch)

Possible advantages


 One coherent model, set of findings, conclusions (increases utility of output for end users)


 Can lead to new conceptual insights

 Allows innovation in analysis/synthesis process in update

 No arbitrary dividing date between literature in original and updated meta-ethnographies


 Efficient use of resource expended on original meta-ethnography


 Facilitates comparisons between two sets of literature from different time periods



 More easily done by a new team of reviewers


 Can implement methodological advances in meta-ethnography/qualitative reviewing


 Can improve quality and utility of poor quality original meta-ethnography


 Suitable if you have revised review question or study selection criteria


Possible disadvantages


 Challenging for a new team of reviewers


 Update findings might be influenced by original findings, especially if done by original reviewers

 Can minimise influence of findings from original meta-ethnography, especially if done by new reviewers


 Lack of established methods for updating original analysis/synthesis


 More likely to have large number of articles to synthesise (>40 is challenging)