Realistic Evaluation (London: Sage,1997) is an influential introductory text written by Ray Pawson and Nick Tilley. It gives a critique of existing evaluation practice and covers the basic principles and approach of realist evaluation, including for realist interviews. It also outlines the potential for evaluation to support cumulative learning.

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The Science of Evaluation: a realist manifesto (London: Sage, 2013), also by Ray Pawson, makes the case for a ‘science’ of evaluation that can build a coherent body of learning and evidence on social programmes. It summarises the key principles of ‘critical realism’ that underpin the method.

The book includes a critical review of a range of recent published realist evaluations to sharpen the methodological debate and improve practice (also available as a paper) and a detailed account of an application of the method to inform policy on banning smoking in cars carrying children.

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More resources on Realist Evaluation can be found in the Mesh Realist Evaluation resources category.To see how this resource fits in with the rest of Mesh's evaluation resources, and to learn how to navigate them, visit the Mesh evaluation page

This resource was developed by Robin Vincent as part of supporting the Wellcome Trust linked community of practice on evaluation of public and community engagement and was originally hosted on the eMOPs website.

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