On the gaining of understanding; syntheses, themes and information analysis

David Bawden


Methods for gaining qualitative understanding, in the specific sense defined by Jonathan Kvanvig, of sets of information instantiated in documents, in the context of library/information research, are reviewed and compared. A number of methods are relevant to this kind of study, including critical and systematic reviewing, meta-ethnography, historical analysis, philosophical analysis, content and discourse analysis, and grounded theory. It is concluded that, while such studies are carried out in library/information research, there is no agreement on the most appropriate methods. It is suggested that the most appropriate methodology is based on critical interpretive synthesis, carried out in the style of ethnographic, chronological or conceptual analysis.


reviews; qualitative synthesis; meta-analysis

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ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)