Having taken a deep dive into realist evaluation with BCURE, I’ve been fascinated to share insights with other realist evaluators in this growing field. Realist evaluation can provide valuable insights for policymakers and implementers, but it is a demanding and rigorous approach, requiring a specific way of thinking about causal relationships and context that requires a realist ‘mind-set’, the right evaluation design and stakeholders willing to engage in depth with the evaluation.

To help us be more systematic on our lesson-learning, a few of us realist evaluators – staff and associates at itad – have formed a Realist Evaluation Learning Group, to distil what we’ve learned along the way and share it with the wider evaluation and international development communities. We have been exploring both how realist evaluation can add value to the complex, cross-sectoral and multi-country evaluations we tend to do in international development, as well as how the approach needs to be adapted to get the best out of it for commissioners, implementers and evaluators. We have co-authored blogs, and a practice paper, which is nearly ready to share, as well as a previous practice paper for the Centre for Development Impact. Read more.