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.


Conference program

Download the conference program here

Keynote Speakers

Social Program

Pre conference workshops

Six workshops have been scheduled for Monday, 23 October 2017 – three in the morning and three in the afternoon. You may choose to attend one workshop (either a morning or afternoon workshop) OR you may attend two workshops. Each workshop will include a tea break and lunch will be provided for all workshop attendees. Please register for the workshops as part of the conference registration process.

Workshop registration fees:

Single workshop (includes morning or afternoon tea and lunch)
Standard registration: $75
Student registration: $55

Full day, two workshops (includes morning and afternoon tea and lunch)
Standard registration: $100
Student registration: $80

Monday 23 October 2017, 9.00 – 12.30pm

1. Introduction to realist evaluation
Facilitated by Andrew Hawkins, ARTD Consultants, Australia

2. Complexity and realist approaches
Facilitated by Gill Westhorp, Charles Darwin University, Australia

3. Applying realism to ethnographic research methods
Facilitated by Rebecca Hardwick, University of Exeter and Lisa Burrows, University of Plymouth, UK
Maximum of 15 participants

Monday 23 October 2017, 1.30 – 5.00pm

4. A realist approach to qualitative interviewing and analysis: Translating an interview regarding Indian Residential School experience into CMOCs
Facilitated by Tracey Carr, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Maximum of 15 participants

5. Introduction to realist synthesis
Facilitated by Gill Westhorp, Charles Darwin University, Australia

6. Realist quantitative methods
Facilitated by John Eastwood, Sydney Local Health District, Australia

Post conference workshop

Friday 27 October 2017, 9.00am – 12.30pm

Please register for this workshop as part of the conference registration process.

Integrating your learning
Maximum of 48 participants

Workshop registration fee:
Standard registration: $60
Student registration: $40
Morning tea only will be included.


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

Conference registration is now open.

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

registration fee
(after 7 September 2017)

Full registrationA$950
Student full registrationA$750
Day registrationA$500
Student day registrationA$350
Social functions
Welcome reception

Included for all registered conference participants

Guest ticket A$50

Conference dinnerA$95
Pre conference workshops (Monday 23 October)
Single workshop (includes morning or afternoon tea and lunch)
Standard registrationA$75
Student registrationA$55
Full day, two workshops (includes morning and afternoon tea and lunch)
Standard registrationA$100
Student registrationA$80
Post conference workshop (Friday 27 October)
Standard registrationA$60
Student registrationA$40

* 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.

Registration fees include:

Attendance at all conference sessions
Delegate satchel
Welcome reception ticket (1)
All morning and afternoon teas and lunches

Tickets to the conference dinner are additional to the registration fees.

Pre and post conference workshops are additional to the registration fees.

Accommodation and travel expenses are additional to the registration fees. A limited number of rooms have been reserved on behalf of conference delegates at Rydges South Bank, Mantra South Bank, and Swiss-Belhotel until Friday, 22 September 2017. To secure the conference accommodation rates, bookings should be made online as part of the registration process.

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.