Gearing up for Realist Methodology Training Week: Oct. 15th - 19th, 2018


The Foresight Centre at the University of Liverpool (1 Brownlow St., Liverpool, L69 3GL) will be the site for a week-long series of workshops for Realist Methodology training, October 15th-19th, 2018. The week is designed to help participants grasp the fundamentals of Realist Methodology and Realist Philosophy and to gain skills in advanced techniques of realist qualitative interviewing, conceptualizing and complex modelling.

Monday, 15.10.18 and Tuesday, 16.10.18: Introduction to Realist Evaluation and Synthesis

Wednesday, 17.10.18: Gaining Clarity from the Philosophical Foundations of Realist Evaluation

Thursday, 18.10.18: Enhancing Technique in Realist Qualitative Interviewing

Friday, 19.10.18: Conceptualizing and Visual Depiction of Complex Realist Analyses


For full description of the workshops click on '2018 Training Week' at


In the Monday/Tuesday Introduction to Realist Methodology workshop, participants will learn the fundamentals of realist methodology – the principles, philosophy and practice as it pertains to Realist Evaluation and Synthesis. Day 1 begins with the basics in realist philosophy, methodology and realist programme and middle-range theories. There will be a short homework exercise for Monday evening. On Tuesday, we will continue learning about and discussing how to apply programme and middle-range theories, retroductive thinking, CMO configurations, and will review the steps in conducting a Realist Synthesis. On the second day we will also discuss what it means to conduct a realist qualitative interview. There will be ample time for questions.


Wednesday we delve deeper with a workshop dedicated to the underpinning philosophy of Realist Evaluation. We will touch upon the influential thinkers that shaped Pawson and Tilley’s work, according to the theoretical field laid out by Ray Pawson in his 2013 book, The Science of Evaluation: A Realist Manifesto. This workshop is suitable for those who have taken the introductory workshop or have a general understanding of the principles of Realist Evaluation. It will be particularly useful for people who are learning how to articulate the realist paradigm to a non-realist audience, and also to explore the philosophical foundations of the approach to overcome conceptual blockages in developing study design and analysis.

*This workshop also includes a follow-up online webinar on November 15th, 2018. Due to the dense material presented in this workshop, the follow-up session is designed to allow participants time to reflect and return with questions to enhance the integration of the workshop content within their work.  


Thursday we will spend the day studying and practicing the realist qualitative interview. The realist qualitative interview is a particular interview technique based on realist principles, a skill that takes time and sensitivity to develop. Honing this skill is important in order to be as respectful as possible to your interviewee while remaining committed to a generative line of questioning. It has been my experience that people who do not approach qualitative data collection with a realist theory-testing frame find it more difficult to work with interview transcriptions using the context-mechanism-outcome configuration.  We will look at examples of interview guides and participants may share their insights along with role playing to practice enhancing one’s interview technique.


Friday will be spent exploring and practicing how to conceptualize and visually model data from realist analyses. Visual models that convey findings with clarity and without compromising the integrity of the analysis are of great help to improve the understanding and readability of study findings. We will look at different ways to visually depict the CMO configuration as well as learn how to model analyses that are framed around implementation and sustainability questions. We will look at examples found in the literature and participants will have a chance to present their works in progress for feedback.

Along with the material presented during the week, there will be ample time for networking and collaboration. Learning how to address complexity using the realist approach takes time. My hope is that this week of intensive training on realist methodology, principles and practice will greatly benefit your research goals.




Justin Jagosh