Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Qualitative synthesis research is an approach that consolidates the output of different qualitative studies to create new subject knowledge. Such work can help reveal more powerful explanations than that seen in a single study, thereby generating increased levels of understanding of a given phenomenon and greater research finding generalizability. Based on a review of the literature and a survey of qualitative researchers, we found that the information systems (IS) domain lacks a clear understanding of qualitative synthesis methods and, as a result, has largely failed to take advantage of this powerful, high-potential methodological opportunity. To address this shortcoming, this paper is the first to provide a rigorous overview of the full suite of 35 qualitative synthesis methods, as well as guidelines that include a three-tiered selection framework. By using the guidelines and framework in tandem, IS researchers are able to select the qualitative synthesis method most appropriate for a given research study, particularly when the research objective involves knowledge integration/aggregation, interpretation/theory development, and/or informing IS practice.





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