Realist evaluation: an introduction

4 February 2019 09.30-16.30

Realist evaluation is a theory-driven approach to evaluating evidence from complex interventions. In this workshop, participants will explore the advantage of using realist methodology to go beyond the question of ‘did an intervention work or not?’ to addressing questions about how, for whom, and under what circumstances interventions produce their particular outcomes. Participant interaction in this workshop will focus on exploring the underlying logic of realist evaluation, building the skills needed to design and implement realist projects, as well as understanding how to interpret the findings from realist evaluation and reviews.

Workshop content

The workshop will cover six areas:

  1. Understanding the philosophical basis of Realist Evaluation (RE).
  2. Introducing the main constructs employed in RE: program theory, demi-regularity; and context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) configuration.
  3. Collecting data.
  4. Exemplifying various ways these concepts are used in the literature.
  5. Doing “hands-on” exercises in CMO configuring and middle-range theory building.
  6. Exploring the limitations of the approach.

Additional workshop goals may include: exploring when it is appropriate to use a realist synthesis approach; understanding what constitutes ‘data’ in realist evaluation, discussing the meaning of appraisal in the realist context, and addressing a range of questions from workshop participants concerning their potential application of realist methodology to research areas of interest.


The workshop will be delivered by Dr. Justin Jagosh who directs the Centre for Advancement in Realist Evaluation and Synthesis (CARES) and is an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Liverpool. Justin was a recent co-investigator on the RAMESES II project to develop quality guidelines and reporting standards for Realist Evaluation. He runs an on-going programme of introductory and intermediate-level workshops on realist methodology and serves as an evaluation consultant on a variety of research projects. Through workshops, consultancy and private mentorship he has provided guidance on over 75 realist projects since 2013.

This workshop is aimed at researchers who have little or no prior knowledge of realist evaluation.


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