Professor Gill Westhorp


Professorial Research Fellow

Gill leads the Realist Research Evaluation and Learning Initiative (RREALI). The role of RREALI is to establish CDU as an Australasian centre for excellence in realist methodologies by developing realist methods, researching and enhancing the utility of realist methods, and enhancing the University’s research impact (RREALI business plan 2016-18).

Over the coming five years, the team seek to extend existing markets and build new markets for the University in evaluation and policy- and program-related research, by:   

  1. Developing realist research and evaluation methods and tools, including Realist Economic Evaluation;
  2. Developing evaluation and research in markets new to the university:
  3. Building the University’s capacity for high quality evaluation and high impact research;
  4. Developing a supportive environment for evidence-informed policy and programs by building capacity of partners and collaborators

Gill leads realist research and evaluation projects, provides professional development in evaluation and realist methods around the world, participates in research projects as a realist methodologist and mentors other researchers and evaluators in developing and undertaking realist designs. She was a member of the core teams who developed the quality and publication standards for realist synthesis (a method for synthesising existing research and evidence from a realist perspective) and for realist evaluation. 

Gill is also Director of Community Matters Pty Ltd, a consultancy firm specialising in realist research and evaluation methodologies; and an Associate in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Much of her current work is in the international development, climate change, health, and community services sectors. 

Research Interests

  • Integration of principles of complexity theory within realist approaches
  • Development of realist meta-evaluation
  • Application of realist methods to reduce the unintended harms sometimes caused by social interventions
  • Understandings of and processes of empowerment in social interventions  

International Recognition

  • The Sage Research Methods Foundations (on line encyclopaedia). This is designed for beginners in research and appropriate for students and staff as well. - LINK

Training & Workshop Facilitation

Gill has provided training workshops in evaluation methods, realist evaluation and/or realist synthesis for:

Wahana Visi [World Vision] Indonesia, Kupang, Indonesia
University of Sydney, School of Nursing Research Week
Australasian Evaluation Society, Brisbane
James Cook University, Cairns
Master Class in Realist Evaluation for PhD candidates and supervisors, Wellington University, NZ
Open workshop through Community Matters, Adelaide

Evaluation of Lean in the Saskatchewan Health System, Canada

Australasian Evaluation Society (AES, Canberra
Centre for Remote Health (Flinders University/Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs
Charles Darwin University, NT 
Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Spain
Swiss Evaluation Society
Scotland Health Summer School in Evaluation
Carnegie Mellon University

Health Strategy and Policy Institute, Vietnam
Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Scotland Health
Scottish Evaluation Network
ACT Health

University of Montreal
University of Vermont
Child Protection Training Network, Lowell, Massachusetts
European Evaluation Society
Institute for Health Improvement Research, UNSW

2009 - 2010
National Heart Foundation

Australasian Evaluation Society - National training series

2009 & 2011
Australasian Evaluation Society – New Zealand region

Economic and Social Research Council, National Centre for Research Methods, UK

Link to Research Publications

Dr Gillian Westhorp


T: +61 8 8389 4590

Mount Torrens, SA



CDU Research Webportal