2017 International Realist Conference: From Promise to Practice

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2017 is the twenty-year anniversary of the seminal text, Realistic Evaluation, by Ray Pawson and Nick Tilley. Twenty years on, we want to ask ‘the realist question’ about realist methods themselves.  In what ways and in what circumstances have realist methods lived up to their promise of being useful for policy and programs – or not – and why? Is this any different to any other form of evaluation or research?

  • Are realist methods as useful in practice as they promised to be?
  • What methods are effective in realist research and evaluation?
  • What are the latest innovations in methods?
  • What needs to change for realist methods to live up to their promise?

These are some of the key questions that will be addressed in the fourth international realist conference, From Promise to Practice, to be held in Brisbane, Australia, from 24-26 October 2017.  

This fourth conference will continue the tradition of realist conferences building a community of practice, sharing and discussing methods for use in realist approaches. This time, we hope to get a strong emphasis on strengthening the Australasian community of practice, as well as our links with the wider international community of practice.  What new methods have been attempted? What has worked well, and not so well, for what, and why? How do Australasian contexts (including Maori, Torres Strait Islander, Australian Aboriginal and other indigenous peoples’ involvement) affect the mechanisms that operate and the outcomes we see here?   

This is the first realist methodology conference to be held outside the UK. It provides a great opportunity for people in Australia, New Zealand and our near neighbours to network with each other, and with leading methodologists and practitioners from around the world.


Call for Abstracts

The Realist Conference Committee is now inviting abstract submissions for presentation at the 2017 conference. Submissions are sought for oral or poster presentations, each answering one or more aspects of the central questions set out in the Welcome statement. We anticipate submissions from those working in the fields of health, crime and justice, international development, economic evaluation, environment and climate change, and many others. We are also interested in those working with Indigenous partners in domestic and international development settings. We are especially interested in submissions for co-presentations, where researcher/evaluator and commissioner/user present together, Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners co-present; or post graduate students and supervisors co-present.

Submissions are invited for multiple options:

  • long paper – methodology
  • long paper – use of realist findings
  • short paper
  • multi-paper sessions
  • panel
  • round-table
  • skills workshop
  • posters
  • my thesis in focus
  • other formats

The call for abstracts will close on Friday, 9 June 2017. Authors will be notified of the success of their submission by Friday, 21 July 2017.

For more information on abstract guidelines and submission please go to http://realist2017.org/call-for-abstracts/

Call for workshops

Pre-conference workshops will be conducted on Monday 23 October.

The Realist Conference Committee invites submissions for pre-conference workshops to be held on Monday 23 October 2017. Please read the below information regarding the format of the pre-conference workshop and the submission requirements.

Duration: Half day or full day

Procedure: Workshops should be designed using principles of adult learning; the workshop format should be described very clearly in the abstract.

Content: There are no set themes for pre-conference workshops, but they must focus on developing competence in aspects of realist research, evaluation or synthesis. Submissions will be required to identify the workshop purpose, learning objectives, and teaching and learning methods. Preferred workshops will be ‘hands-on’, experiential and/or participatory, and provide opportunities for participants to practise the skill within the session. The submission should describe the level of experience or previous knowledge required to benefit from the session. Specify whether the workshop targets a particular audience (eg evaluators, PhD supervisors, commissioners or end-users of realist research and evaluation). Workshops that have been offered successfully at other conferences may be considered. Evidence of the success of previous workshops should be provided as part of the justification statement.

There is a 300 word limit for your pre-conference workshop submission.

One presenter for each half-day workshop will be provided with complimentary registration for the duration of the conference.  NOTE: Two or more presenters may facilitate a workshop, but only one complimentary registration per workshop will be provided. Where two presenters are working together to provide a full-day pre-conference workshop, each would be eligible for a complimentary registration.

Pre-conference workshop proposals are to be submitted on the application form by Friday, 9 June 2017 via email to realist2017@expertevents.com.au.

Applicants will be notified of the success of their submission by Monday, 3 July 2017.


Who should attend?

  • Those practising – or wanting to know more about – realist evaluation, realist synthesis and other kinds of realist research
  • Those commissioning realist work, or using realist findings – service providers and policy officers in both government and non-government sectors
  • PhD students and supervisors
  • Evaluators and researchers – in house, independent, and academic
  • Program managers and other staff with responsibilities in evaluation
  • People designing new policies and programs

Registration fees

Registration fees are based on the date of receipt of payment (not the registration date). All prices are in Australian dollars and include 10% Australian Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Registration type

Early bird
registration fee
(by 24 August 2017)

registration fee
(after 24 August 2017)

Full registrationA$850A$950
Student full registrationA$650A$750
Social functions
Welcome receptionIncluded for all registered conference participants

Guest ticket A$50

Conference dinnerA$95

* Student registration is available for those studying full time and who hold a current Student Identification Card. To be eligible you will need to provide a copy of your student ID card or a written statement from your supervisor verifying your student status to realist2017@expertevents.com.au.

Register here

For more information please visit the conference website at http://realist2017.org/

For administrative matters and registration enquiries:

Tel: +61 7 3848 2100
Email: realist2017@expertevents.com.au
PO Box 351, Hamilton Central  QLD  4007  Australia

For conference content enquiries please contact the conference co-convenors:

Emma Williams   Dr Gill Westhorp

      Emma Williams                  Gill Westhorp

This event is proudly sponsored by the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University.