Centre for Advancement in Realist Evaluation and Synthesis (CARES)

Video: Introduction to Realist Evaluation and Synthesis

Dr. Justin Jagosh introduces foundational concepts in Realist Methodology in an interactive seminar through Engage Liverpool, January 25th, 2017.

Welcome to the website for the Centre for Advancement in Realist Evaluation and Synthesis (CARES), operated by Dr. Justin Jagosh. Realist methodology (in the tradition of Pawson and Tilley 1997; Pawson 2006, 2013) is a theory-driven approach to understanding 'what works, for whom, under what circumstances and how' for programmes, services, interventions and policies. The methodology is burgeoning for assessment across many sectors including health and social service, crime prevention, social policy, international development and environmental studies. For an introduction to the methodology, please feel free to view this video


Pawson R, & Tilley N. (1997). Realistic Evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pawson R, (2006). Evidence-Based Policy: A Realist perspective, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Pawson R, (2013). The Science of Evaluation: A Realist Manifesto, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage




CECAN Webinar Series:

Three webinars on realist methodology, given in partnership with the Centre for Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN):

Realist Methodology for Complexity-Mindedness in the Food, Energy, Water and Climate Sectors: 

March 13th, 2017

Many approaches to addressing complexity in evaluation design are burgeoning. In part this is in response to the inadequacy of 'complexity-thin' approaches to supporting solutions to entrenched and evolving problems. A second factor is witnessing new complex problems emerging with radical changes in society and sectors.

In this context, the realist paradigm serves as a guide to expand complexity-mindedness, which presumably translates into more useful and relevant knowledge products, and a community of realist evaluation specialists dedicated to developing a lens on 'context-mechanism' interactions.

This webinar will introduce realist methodological principles, and explain how realism can increase our complexity-mindedness and capacity to gain causal insight.  











The "Context + Mechanism" Association: A key heuristic in Realist Evaluation for innovating complex programmes:

June 26th, 2017

Undertaking inquiry using the realist approach involves analysing complexity in terms of context-mechanism-outcome configurations. Confusion often arises in determining when data should fit under 'context' or else 'mechanism' in the process of configuring.

This webinar will offer a simple set of definitions for context, mechanism and outcome and will introduce examples of CMO configuring to demonstrate the context-mechanism interaction.

The goal is to stimulate ideas around how to define concepts, theorize programmes and configure data in realist analysis, with the ultimate ambition of increasing capacity for using realist evaluation to innovate and transform programmes.    


Dosage, Timelines, and other Considerations for Conducting a Realist Evaluation:                          

September 6th, 2017

The functioning of a programme can be determined from the realist theories that sketch out its basic architecture. This becomes increasingly evident in the process of theory testing using the context-mechanism-outcome configuration in which we try to understand how resources, when placed in environments trigger responses to produce outcomes.

In understanding how programmes work, we may arrive at questions about dosage (e.g., how many times should we expect the resource to be delivered before the desired response will be triggered?) and timelines of impact (e.g., what are reasonable estimations of time delay between the introduction of resources and the triggering of response?).

Using examples, this webinar will demonstrate why dosage and timelines of impact are important considerations in the process of realist theory developing and testing.