If, when and how to sample primary studies for inclusion in a qualitative evidence synthesis

Date & Time
Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Location Name
Session Type
Workshop - training
Capacity building in evidence synthesis
Target audience
People conducting qualitative evidence syntheses (QES)
Level of difficulty

Background: Too much data can threaten the quality of a data synthesis in a qualitative evidence synthesis (QES), and too little can limit transferability across multiple contexts. As a QES seeks to provide an interpretation of the evidence, it is not essential to identify and include every available, relevant study but rather only studies that adequately represent relevant data from diverse participants and contexts. Sampling can be considered within the study selection process to enable the review team to include a manageable number of studies in their review. Sampling methods are, however, not well articulated, and selecting an inappropriate sample introduces threats to QES rigour.
Objectives: The objective of this workshop will be to guide participants through new Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group guidance on sampling using practical exercises to facilitate an understanding of the following: - the difference between comprehensive and theoretical/purposeful screening approaches; - what to do if the search identifies too few or too many studies; and - how to sample studies for inclusion in a synthesis. Furthermore, we will challenge participants to engage in problem solving and creative thinking which may lead to new methodological ideas in the field of sampling for study inclusion in a QES.
Description: This workshop will begin with a brief presentation of the key terms and concepts participants need to understand to participate in the groupwork. Participants will then be broken into small groups. Each group will receive a case study of a QES to form the basis of their groupwork and discussion. They will work together to develop a sampling strategy for the QES they have been assigned. Throughout the workshop, we will shift between group and plenary discussion to resolve the case studies using participants’ experiences and creative thinking. As sampling for study inclusion can take diverse forms, participants will be challenged to find solutions appropriate to the QES they are working with. QIMG Core methods workshop.

France E1, Flemming K2
1University of Sterling, Scotland
2University of York, The United Kingdom