Paterson, Thorne, Canam, & Jillings Meta-Study of Qualitative Health Research

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The metasynthesis approach that we used was that of metastudy (Paterson, Thorne, et al., 2001). The procedures of metastudy are detailed in a book written by Paterson, Thorne, and colleagues (2001) and illustrated in several published articles (Paterson, 2001, 2003; Paterson, Canam, Joachim, & Thorne, 2003; Paterson & Thorne, 2003; Thorne & Paterson, 1998; Thorne, Paterson, et al., 2002) and a book chapter (Paterson, 2007).

Basically, metastudy involves three analytic phases (meta–data analysis, metamethod, and metatheory), in which the findings, research designs, and theoretical frames of primary research (i.e., the research reports that are synthesized) are compared and contrasted. In the synthesis phase, the findings of the analytic phases are considered in light of the historical, sociocultural, and disciplinary context in which the primary research was conducted. This phase can be described as “digging deep to generate new knowledge about the phenomenon under study” (Paterson, 2007, p. 76).

Differs from a literature review in that it represents a "discrete and distinct approach to new inquiry based on a critical interpretation of existing qualitative research. It creates a mechanism by which the nature of interpretation is exposed and the meanings that extend well beyond those presented in the available body of knowledge can be generated.  As such, it offers a critical, historical, and theoretical analytic approach to making sense of qualitatively derived knowledge." p.2 Barbara L. Paterson, Connie Canam
Meta-study is the "research of research".

Paterson, B. L., Thorne, S. E., Canam, C., & Jillings, C. (2001). Meta-study of qualitative health research: A practical guide to meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.