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Table 2 When dissemination bias may arise in the process of writing up and disseminating the findings of qualitative studies

From: Applying GRADE-CERQual to qualitative evidence synthesis findings–paper 7: understanding the potential impacts of dissemination bias

Stage of the dissemination process How dissemination bias may arise
Funder/commercial/policy interests Studies or study findings not disseminated because of funder interests, commercial interests or other interests related to a policy process
Decision to write/submit for publication • Study findings contrary to popular opinion or practice more/less likely to be written up or disseminated
• Most novel or striking study findings selected for publication
• Findings of unfunded studies less likely to be submitted for publication
Decisions on which themes/findings to include or emphasise in study reports Study authors favour particular interpretations
Choice of dissemination strategy • Study authors choose avenue/s to disseminate the study findings (e.g., to which journal to submit the paper) that result in findings being less available
• Studies in some languages more likely to be published in non-indexed journals and therefore their findings are less available
Editorial policies of journals and other dissemination forums • Journal editors/peer reviewers favour studies reporting findings focusing on particular issues
• Word limits make full publication of findings less likely
Inclusion in databases • Particular study findings more/less like to be found if the studies reporting these, or the journals typically publishing these, are more/less likely to be included in databases and therefore to be retrieved
  1. This table does not intend to provide a comprehensive overview of all the routes through which dissemination bias may arise in writing up and disseminating the findings of qualitative studies