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Table 2 Three levels of research

From: Convergent and sequential synthesis designs: implications for conducting and reporting systematic reviews of qualitative and quantitative evidence

  Level of research
Primary Secondarya Tertiary
Research Empirical study: research based directly on observation, experiment, or simulation rather than on reasoning or theory alone [26, 47]. Systematic review: collation and interpretation of existing empirical studies using systematic and explicit methods [48]. Review of reviews: collation and interpretation of existing systematic reviews [48].
Types of research Qualitative study: research that aims at exploring and understanding phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them [49, 50]. Qualitative review: review combining qualitative studies. Review of qualitative reviews: review combining qualitative reviews.
Quantitative study: research that aims at testing theories by examining the relationship among variables [49]. Quantitative review: review combining quantitative studies. Review of quantitative reviews: review combining quantitative reviews.
Mixed methods study: research involving collecting and integrating both quantitative and qualitative data [49]. Mixed studies review: review combining qualitative, quantitative, and/or mixed methods studies. Review of mixed studies reviews: review combining mixed studies reviews.
Data Primary data collected from fieldwork or lab work. Findings from included studies. Findings from included reviews.
Data analysis Analysis: a step within empirical study of investigating, making sense of, interpreting, and/or theorizing primary data using statistical and/or text analysis procedures [49, 51]. Synthesis: a step within a systematic review consisting of creating something new of findings from included studies [48]. Synthesis of findings across included reviews.
  1. aSecondary research is different from secondary analysis. Secondary analysis is used to designate the reanalysis of primary data to answer new questions [52]