Introduction to Realist Research & Review

July 11 - 29, 2022

Part of the Summer Institute in Innovative Methodologies

Realist review is a relatively novel literature review methodology aimed at understanding how complex public health programs work. Realist reviews go beyond ‘was this program effective?’ and seek to understand how, for whom, and in which circumstances these programs achieve their observed outcomes.

This 2-week online course provides the foundations of realism and an introduction to realist reviews. This course is for graduate students, health researchers, and public health professionals who are new to the methodology and wish to familiarize themselves with the realist concepts and how they are applied in understanding complex programs.

Content will include:

  1. Introduction to realist philosophy of science;
  2. Understanding mechanisms, contexts, and context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) configurations;
  3. Introduction to realist reviews;
  4. Common errors in conducting realist reviews.

The course will involve several didactic strategies involving lectures, group discussions, and exercises, as well as foundational literature regarding the realist methodology to be read for each session.

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