This paper reports on a research collective in primary healthcare (PHC) conducted in Quebec in 2004. A lead team of investigators synthesized 30 ongoing or recently completed studies from project description forms filled out by the participating researchers. The process of the collective is examined by addressing the three main challenges met in the course of its completion, namely, (a) the need to derive an analytical framework to regroup variables in a meaningful way, (b) the assessment of strength of evidence and (c) coping with a mix of quantitative and qualitative studies. Advantages of the collective over other forms of research synthesis include timeliness, low cost relative to the total cost of the studies it comprises and the information it generates and, finally, context linkage, which enhances relevance but which could limit transferability of the findings. Overall, the research collective appears to be a promising tool for research synthesis.
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