Varieties of integrative scholarship: why rules of evidence, criteria, and standards matter

William C McGaghie
Academic Medicine 2015, 90 (3): 294-302
Integrative scholarship involves the aggregation of data and evidence in a way that allows the research community to comprehend and value the connections and perspectives that unite isolated facts and research studies. Integrative scholarship summarizes data, enlightens and informs readers broadly, and sets the stage for subsequent research. This article describes five approaches to integrative scholarship--narrative, systematic, scoping, critical-realist, open peer commentary--and argues that each approach uses different methods and rules of evidence to combine data and report their meaning. Different forms of integrative scholarship use methods, criteria, and standards that are matched to the integrative approach and data being evaluated. There is no one best strategy to conduct or judge integrative scholarship. Researchers who perform integrative scholarship should openly express the values that underlie their work.

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