Authors: Biljana Macura, Monika Suškevičs, Ruth Garside, Karin Hannes, Rebecca Rees and Romina Rodela
Qualitative research related to the human dimensions of conservation and environment is growing in quantity. Rigorous syntheses of such studies can help develop understanding and inform decision-making. They can combine findings from studies in varied or similar contexts to address questions relating to, for example, the lived experience of those affected by environmental phenomena or interventions, or to intervention implementation. Researchers in environmental management have adapted methodology for systematic reviews of quantitative research so as to address questions about the magnitude of intervention effects or the impacts of human activities or exposure. However, guidance for the synthesis of qualitative evidence in this field does not yet exist. The objective of this paper is to present a brief overview of different methods for the synthesis of qualitative research and to explore why and how reviewers might select between these. The paper discusses synthesis methods developed in other fields but applicable to environmental management and policy. These methods include thematic synthesis, framework synthesis, realist synthesis, critical interpretive synthesis and meta-ethnography. We briefly describe each of these approaches, give recommendations for the selection between them, and provide a selection of sources for further reading.