Qualitative evidence synthesis (QES) is a process of combining evidence from original qualitative studies to create new understanding, by drawing together particular themes, categories or metaphors that are observedin research reports in order to develop a theoretical model or a line of argument. QES authors currently rely on written accounts of scientific research for their reviews, hereby ignoring insights generated from arts based research (ABR), a methodology in which the expressive qualities of form are used to convey meaning. ABR has successfully been used in a variety of different disciplines. ABR outcomes are generally under-served by the printed page. In many case the art is considered the ‘data’ (e.g. images instead of text fragments);the vehicle for dissemination of findings (instead of a written report) may present themselves as a drama or dance performance, an exhibition of images or visual representations. These forms represent a considerable challenge to authors of systematic reviews trying to synthesize research evidence on a particular topic. Methodological guidance that would allow for this type of evidence to be included in QES is lacking. In addition, the uptake of these unwritten forms of evidence by the qualitative systematic review community might be hindered by the lack of a comprehensive theoretical framework in which ABRs are described. We aim to develop this theoretical-methodological framework.
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