Realist Research, Evaluation and Learning Initiative (RREALI)


RREALI builds the capacity of Northern Territory evaluation stakeholders in: evaluative thinking and its use in program development, design, monitoring and evaluation; commissioning evaluations; disseminating and using findings to meet accountability requirements and improve governance and service responses; and conducting policy, program and strategic evaluations.



Realist Research, Evaluation and Learning Initiative (RREALI) uses similar approaches in international development, with a particular focus on our near northern neighbours in Asia. It uses multiple strategies, including undertaking evaluations; providing training workshops; mentoring; collaborative work with partners with a gradual handover of roles; use of innovative methods in commissioned evaluations; and facilitation of impact workshops to understand findings and develop implications for changes to policy and practice.

RREALI focuses on realist methodologies and methodological development, and uses applied research in development and testing of these methods.

Realist methodologies are grounded in a realist philosophy of science and seek to build understanding of how and why policies and programs generate differential outcome in different contexts. This knowledge can then be used to inform decisions about, for example, the appropriate mix of programs for different contexts, how to tailor programs to different contexts, and whether – and how – to scale programs out.

Recent work in Realist economic evaluation has incorporated approaches that understand that decisions are not made on an economic rationalist approach and the powerful impact of behavioural and cognitive processes on decision making. These approaches help program leaders understand the reasons for unexpected results and how to plan for the social and economic thinking in program design.



Stakeholders have drawn on an integrated and bespoke evaluation program to assess the value of programs to program-users through an analysis of the program design, its impact and the different types of outcomes that occur through a range of programs. The approaches used have incorporated workshops and capacity building activities for stakeholders to increase the understanding of programs, capacity to engage in evaluation of programs on an ongoing basis and the options that are available to stakeholders.