Core Library of Qualitative Synthesis Methodology

The key resource is:

Noyes J, Booth A, Cargo M, Flemming K, Harden A, Harris J, Garside R, Hannes K, Pantoja T, Thomas J. Chapter 21 Qualitative evidence. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. 2019 Sep 23:525-45.

The following items represent key methodology resources. NB. No endorsement of individual methods is implied by inclusion in this list. See Supplemental Handbook Guidance.

Barnett-Page E, Thomas J. Methods for the synthesis of qualitative research: a critical review. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2009 Aug 11;9:59.

Benoot C., Hannes K., Bilsen J. (2016). The use of purposeful sampling in a qualitative evidence synthesis: A worked example on sexual adjustment to a cancer trajectory. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 16 (21), 1-12.

Booth, A., & Carroll, C. (2015). How to build up the actionable knowledge base: the role of "best fit" framework synthesis for studies of improvement in healthcare. BMJ Quality & Safety, 24(11), 700–708.

Booth A, Harris J, Croot E, Springett J, Campbell F, Wilkins E (2013). Towards a methodology for cluster searching to provide conceptual and contextual "richness" for systematic reviews of complex interventions: case study (CLUSTER). BMC Med Res Methodol. 2013 Sep 28;13:118. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-13-118.

Booth A. Searching for qualitative research for inclusion in systematic reviews: a structured methodological review. Systematic reviews. 2016 May 4;5(1):74.

Booth A, Noyes J, Flemming K, Gerhardus, A., Wahlster, P., Van Der Wilt, G.J., Mozygemba, K., Refolo, P., Sacchini, D., Tummers, M., Rehfuess, E. (2016) Guidance on choosing qualitative evidence synthesis methods for use in health technology assessments of complex interventions [Online]. Available from:

Campbell R, Pound P, Morgan M, Daker-White G, Britten N, Pill R, Yardley L, Pope C, Donovan J. Evaluating meta-ethnography: systematic analysis and synthesis of qualitative research. Health Technol Assess. 2011 Dec;15(43):1-164.

Candy B, King M, Jones L, Oliver S. Using qualitative synthesis to explore heterogeneity of complex interventions. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011 Aug 26;11:124.

Cargo M., Stankov I., Thomas J., Saini M., Rogers P., Mayo-Wilson E., Hannes K. (2015). Development, inter-rater reliability and feasibility of a checklist to assess implementation (Ch-IMP) in systematic reviews: the case of provider-based prevention and treatment programs targeting children and youth. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 15, DOI 10.1186/s12874-015-0037-7, 73.

Carroll C, Booth A, Cooper K. A worked example of "best fit" framework synthesis: a systematic review of views concerning the taking of some potential chemopreventive agents. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011 Mar 16;11:29.

Carroll, C., Booth, A., Leaviss, J., & Rick, J. (2013). "Best fit" framework synthesis: refining the method. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 13(1), 1-16.

Carroll, C., & Booth, A. (2015). Quality assessment of qualitative evidence for systematic review and synthesis: Is it meaningful, and if so, how should it be performed?. Research Synthesis Methods. 6 (2): 149-154

CRD. Systematic Reviews; CRD'S Guidance. Chapter 6 - Incorporating qualitative evidence in or alongside effectiveness reviews

Dixon-Woods M, Cavers D, Agarwal S, Annandale E, Arthur A, Harvey J, Hsu R, Katbamna S, Olsen R, Smith L, Riley R, Sutton AJ. Conducting a critical
interpretive synthesis of the literature on access to healthcare by vulnerable groups. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2006 Jul 26;6:35.

Dixon-Woods, M et al. (2004) Integrative approaches to qualitative and quantitative evidence Health Development Agency, London, 44pp.

France, E. F., Ring, N., Thomas, R., Noyes, J., Maxwell, M., & Jepson, R. (2014). A methodological systematic review of what's wrong with meta-ethnography reporting. BMC medical research methodology, 14(1), 119.

France, E. F., Wells, M., Lang, H., & Williams, B. (2016). Why, when and how to update a meta-ethnography qualitative synthesis. Systematic Reviews, 5(1). doi:10.1186/s13643-016-0218-4

Garside, R. (2014). Should we appraise the quality of qualitative research reports for systematic reviews, and if so, how?. Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 27(1), 67-79.

Hannes, K. & Lockwood, C. (2012). Qualitative Evidence Synthesis: choosing the right approach (volume 1). UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Hannes, K., Booth, A., Harris, J., Noyes, J. (2013). Celebrating methodological challenges and changes: reflecting on the emergence and importance of the role of qualitative evidence in Cochrane reviews. Systematic Reviews, 17 (2(1)), 84.

Hannes, K., Harden, A. (2012). Multi-context versus Context-specific qualitative evidence syntheses: discussing their value for practice and policy decision making processes. Research Synthesis Methods, 2 (4), 271-278.

Hannes K., Lockwood C. (2011). Pragmatism as the philosophical underpinning of the Joanna Briggs meta-aggregative approach to qualitative evidence synthesis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 67 (7), 1632-1642.

Hannes K., Lockwood C., Pearson A. (2010). A Comparative Analysis of Three Online Appraisal Instruments' Ability to Assess Validity in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Health Research, 20 (12), 1736-1743.

Lewin S, Glenton C, Munthe-Kaas H, Carlsen B, Colvin CJ, Gülmezoglu M, Noyes J, Booth A, Garside R, Rashidian A. Using qualitative evidence in decision making for health and social interventions: an approach to assess confidence in findings from qualitative evidence syntheses (GRADE-CERQual). PLoS Med. 2015 Oct 27;12(10):e1001895.

Lucas P, Baird J, Arai L, Law C, Roberts H (2007) Worked examples of alternative methods for the synthesis of qualitative & quantitative research in systematic reviews. BMC Medical Research Methodology 4, 1-7.

Ludvigsen, M. S., Hall, E. O., Meyer, G., Fegran, L., Aagaard, H., & Uhrenfeldt, L. (2015). Using Sandelowski and Barroso's Metasynthesis Method in Advancing Qualitative Evidence. Qualitative health research, 1049732315576493.

Noyes J, Popay J, Pearson A, Hannes K, Booth A. Chapter 20: Qualitative research and Cochrane reviews. In: Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Version 5.0.1 [updated September 2008]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2008. Available from

Pawson, R., Greenhalgh, T., Harvey, G., & Walshe, K. 2004. Realist synthesis: an introduction. Manchester, UK: ESRC Research Methods Programme.

Pearson, A., Rittenmeyer, L., & Robertson-Malt, S. (2011). Synthesizing qualitative evidence. Lippincott Wiliams Wilkins Medical Research.

Popay J, Roberts H Sowden A, Petticrew M, Arai L, Rodgers M, Britten N (2006) Guidance on the conduct of narrative synthesis in Systematic Reviews. A Product from the ESRC Methods Programme. Version 1. Swindon: ESRC, 92 pages. Available from:

Ring N, Ritchie K, Mandava L, Jepson R: A guide to synthesising qualitative research for researchers undertaking health technology assessments and systematic reviews.,

Thomas J, Harden A. Methods for the thematic synthesis of qualitative research in systematic reviews. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2008 Jul 10;8:45.

Thomas, J., O'Mara-Eves, A., & Brunton, G. (2014). Using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) in systematic reviews of complex interventions: a worked example. Systematic reviews, 3(1), 1-14.

Toye, F., Seers, K., Allcock, N., Briggs, M., Carr, E., Andrews, J., & Barker, K. (2013). 'Trying to pin down jelly'-exploring intuitive processes in quality assessment for meta-ethnography. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 13(1), 46.