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A brief introduction to realist synthesis

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A brief introduction to realist synthesis Geoff Wong Objectives By the end of this presentation I hope you will have an understanding of: what a realist synthesis is ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A brief introduction to realist synthesis


1
A brief introduction to realist synthesis
  • Geoff Wong

2
Overview
  • Objectives
  • What is realist synthesis / review?
  • Why do we need yet another approach?
  • What assumptions underpin realist synthesis?
  • Summary

3
Objectives
  • By the end of this presentation I hope you will
    have an understanding of
  • what a realist synthesis is
  • what assumptions underpin realist synthesis
  • when you might use realist synthesis.

4
What is a realist synthesis?
  • Realist Synthesis - Theory driven systematic
    review (secondary research)
  • Goal is more explanation and understanding than
    judgment and summation
  • More a logic of enquiry- a way of analysing and
    making sense of data using a realist lens.

5
Why do we need yet another research review
method?
  • Because of complex interventions a realist
    perspective
  • Volitions Reliant on people to make choices
  • Implementation Long implementation chains
  • Context Outcomes change under differing contexts
  • Time What has happened previously shapes what
    will happen next
  • Outcomes multiple, planned and unplanned and
    even contested
  • Rivalry Interventions compete with one another
    in the real world
  • Emergence interventions begets change which
    causes more change

6
A simplified diagram of a complex intervention!
L
F
H
J
A
B
C
D
E
G
I
K
Intervention
M
7
Assumptions underpinning realist synthesis
  • Ontologically how we believe the world to be
    constituted
  • Developed from critical realism
  • A stratified and filtered world
  • About identifying, understanding and explaining
    causation through generative mechanisms

All this may be explained by one or more
(middle-range) theories
Context influences which mechanism(s) fires
Mechanism(s)
B
A
8
Assumptions underpinning realist synthesis
  • Epistemologically what counts as knowledge and
    how can we come to know it
  • Knowledge is built up gradually, is partial and
    conditional but corrigible
  • Knowledge should be judged by assessing the
    processes and assumptions by which it is produced
  • Theories are right because they are (for
    example) coherent, plausible and repeatedly
    successful

9
Assumptions underpinning realist synthesis
  • Methodologically
  • Uses a realist lens to analyse and make sense
    of data
  • Theory-driven
  • Realist programme theory
  • Middle-ranged theories to explain outcomes of
    interest
  • Requires focussing and prioritisation of what to
    study
  • Making and testing inferences from the data
  • Uses any data that can inform inferences
  • Iterative

10
Summary
  • Realist research is based on a explicit
    philosophy of science.
  • Ontologically
  • Stratification the world has depth
  • Generative causation through mechanisms
  • Epistemologically
  • Partial and corrigible knowledge, built up
    gradually and judged by assessing the processes
    and assumptions by which it is produced
  • Methodologically
  • Ontology and epistemology should inform
    methodology (and not the other way round)

11
Realism is a way of looking at and making
coherent sense of this messy world we live in.
12
Thanks for your attention
  • Suggested readings
  • Pawson R. Evidence-based Policy. A Realist
    Perpective. London Sage, 2006.
  • Pawson, R., Greenhalgh, T., Harvey, G., and
    Walshe, K. Realist Synthesis an introduction.
    http//www.ccsr.ac.uk/methods/publications/documen
    ts/RMPmethods2.pdf . 2004. ESRC Research Methods
    Programme.
  • Wong G, Greenhalgh T, Westhorp G, Pawson R.
    Realist methods in medical education research
    what are they and what can they contribute?
    Medical Education 2012, 461, 8996
  • Wong G, Greenhalgh T, Pawson R. Internet-based
    medical education a realist synthesis of what
    works, for whom and in what circumstances BMC
    Medical Education 2010, 1012 (2 February 2010)
  • Wong, G., Pawson, R., Owen, L. Policy guidance on
    threats to legislative interventions in public
    health a realist synthesis BMC Public Health
    2011, 11, 222
  • Klee R. Introduction to the philosophy of
    science. Cutting nature at its seams. New York
    Oxford University Press, 1997
  • If you are interested in undertaking a realist
    synthesis please email megrckwong_at_gmail.com
  • Or
  • Join us on the RAMESES Project
  • www.jiscmail.ac.uk/RAMESES
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