Centre for Advancement in Realist Evaluation and Synthesis (CARES)

Past CARES Events

Here you can find information about previous events from the CARES group.  For information on upcoming events, please visit the new CARES website.

CARES Events in 2017

Realist Methodology for Health Services Research
Tuesday, January 24th 2017, 12:00 – 1:00pm
Kings College London
Stamford Street Lecture Theatre, Waterloo campus, 127 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NQ
No registration required
Contact: Dr. Jill Maben

Abstract: Realist methodology is about ‘what works, for whom, under what circumstances and how.’ Although the approach has a broad field of uptake, it has become particularly popular in the health services research and evaluation field. The realist approach begins with the assumption that every intervention, program or service has underpinning programme theory which needs to be unearthed and tested in the course of a research process. Using the approach to examine and synthesize evidence from the health services , the researcher would theorize upon the core mechanisms by which the programme works, theorize the contextual elements that make a difference and propose how intended and unintended outcomes accrue. This theoretical work is used to develop data collection protocols to gather data, and then synthesize evidence using context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) configurations. The product of a realist evaluation or synthesis is evidence-informed, context-sensitive theories about how programs work, for improving programs in future iterations.

Introduction to Realist Evaluation and Synthesis
Wednesday, January 25th 2017, 2:00 – 3:30pm
University of Liverpool
Lecture Room G04, Cypress Building
Chatham St. University of Liverpool

What is Realism? Exploring Key Philosophical Concepts to Advance Realist Methodology
Thursday, February 2st 2017, 12:30 – 1:30pm + discussion
University of Glasgow,
Social and Public Sciences Unit (200 Renfield St.)
Ben Cruachan Seminar Room

Realism maps to a set of intellectual movements that have people making assertions about the nature of reality (ontology) and corresponding constructions of science, research, and methodology (epistemology). The field of Realism is diverse, encompassing critical, scientific and other applied forms. However a few key tenets are commonly shared. These are: (1) positions on ‘mind-independent reality’; (2) references to ‘ontological depth’; (3) calls for generative (rather than successionist) approaches to causation; and (4) an identified need for building capacity around retroductive/abductive theorizing. This seminar will introduce these key realist concepts and demonstrate how they may support the advancement of realist methodology.

There are currently two workshops planned for January 2017:

Introduction to Realist Evaluation and Synthesis
26th & 27th January, Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool

Advanced Concepts in Realist Methodology: a one-day intensive
31st January, London Campus, University of Liverpool

CARES Events in 2016

The 2nd International Conference on Realist Evaluation and Synthesis: Advancing Principles, Strengthening Practice

The 2016 CARES conference took place at the Barbican Centre and University of Liverpool (London Campus). From this page you can find out what happened at the conference and find some great resources, such as plenary talks and presentation slides.

CARES 2016 Programme→

Book of Abstracts (pdf)

Plenary Talks

Presentation Slides

3rd Annual Realist Methodology Summer School

8th - 11th August, Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool

  • Learn about realist methodology;
  • Explore if realist methodology is a right fit for your inquiry;
  • Work on your research design, programme theories and CMO configurations;
  • Partake in one-on-one sessions with facilitators and receive specialized feedback;
  • Present your work-in-progress;
  • Gain exposure to a diversity of projects and share knowledge;
  • Use quiet space for data immersion and writing;
  • Network and collaborate;
  • Enhance your productivity and advance your research

For more information, please see the Summer School Poster

Using the CMO Configuration to Synthesize Emergent Outcomes: A One-Day Intensive

20th April, 2016, University of Liverpool in London Campus, 33 Finsbury Square, London

Outcomes arising from complex interventions often take time to fructify, and can accrue over stages. In this workshop, participants will explore the CMO configuration and how it can be used in an analysis of emergent outcomes. Emergence is similar to ‘the ripple effect’, whereby initial intervention mechanisms change context across a period of time. Participants will be expected to read Jagosh et al’s 2015 article in BMC Public Health and will be encouraged to bring examples from their work. Focussed exercises, and lunch will be provided. 

Realist Methodology Design and Implementation: an Exploratory Workshop

8th and 9th March, 2016, Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool

Realist methodology assists us in understanding the observable and ‘hidden’ forces that produce outcomes in complex health and social interventions. In this 1.5 day workshop, participants will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using this methodology in evaluating or synthesizing evidence - to move past the question of ‘was it successful?’ to better understanding how, for whom, and under what circumstances interventions produce their particular outcomes. This workshop is suitable for those new to the methodology, as well as those who are currently working on realist projects.

CARES Events in 2015

Realist Workshop: Exploring How to Theorize in Realist Evaluation & Synthesis
4th and 5th March 2015, University of Liverpool

In this workshop we will explore ideas about the development and use of theory and how to theorize in realist evaluation and synthesis. Didactic presentation will be followed by exemplars, short exercises and Q&A. Mastering theory is essential to using realist methodology and can build capacity for current and future research. This workshop is suitable for novice and experienced realist researchers.

More Details

Realist Methodology Networking and Support Workshop
23rd April 2015, University of Liverpool in London Campus, 33 Finsbury Square, London

  • A networking and support event for researchers/evaluators using realist methodology to develop and evaluate programs and/or synthesize literature.
  • Day will comprise a mix of structured networking opportunities, group problem solving, one-on-one consultations and slide presentations by peers for feedback and co-learning.
  • Registered participants will be sent a questionnaire in advance of the workshop to identify areas of need and requests for workshop materials and content.
  • In attendance will be members from the RAMESES II project, who are currently working on establishing procedural guidance and reporting standards for realist evaluation. They will participate in the discussions and gather information on research needs by realist methodology users.

More Details

Realist Methodology Summer Training Programme

CARES Events in 2014

2014 Summer Workshop - 21st - 24th July

Please download the CARES Summer Workshop Flyer for more information.

2014 International Conference - 27th - 30th October

The 1st International Conference on Realist Approaches to Evaluation and Synthesis: Successes, Challenges, and the Road Ahead

CARES Conference 2014 Resources

The 1st International Conference on Realist Approaches to Evaluation and Synthesis took place at the University of Liverpool from October 27th - 30th, 2014. Below is the video recordings of the 4 plenary talks, plus a selection of oral, poster and workshop slides from realist practitioners who presented at the conference.  Also included is a link to the full schedule and the complete book of abstracts.

Professor Trish Greenhalgh


Professor Kieran Walshe


Professor Nick Tilley


Professor Mike Kelly