Background A multicentre, multinational research study requires careful planning and coordination to accomplish the aims of the study and to ensure systematic and rigorous examination of all project methods and data collected.
Objective The aim of this paper is to describe the approach we used during the HANDOVER Project to develop a multicentre, multinational research project for studying transitions of patient care while creating a community of practice for the researchers.
Method We highlight the process used to assure the quality of a multicentre qualitative study and to create a codebook for data analysis as examples of attending to the community of practice while conducting rigorous qualitative research.
Findings Essential elements for the success of this multinational, multilanguage research project included recruiting a strong research team, explicit planning for decision-making processes to be used throughout the project, acknowledging the differences among the study settings and planning the protocols to capitalise upon those differences.
Conclusions Although not commonly discussed in reports of large research projects, there is an underlying, concurrent stream of activities to develop a cohesive team that trusts and respects one another's skills and that engage independent researchers in a group process that contributes to achieving study goals. We discuss other lessons learned and offer recommendations for other teams planning multicentre research.
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