Geoff Wong

Dr Geoff Wong joined the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences team in March 2015. He is a highly experienced and internationally recognized expert in realist synthesis and evaluation and works closely with researchers in the field of evidence syntheses of complex health and social interventions.

Clinically he works as a General Practitioner (GP) in London. He has previously worked at University College London and Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.


Dr Gill Westhorp

Prof Gill Westhorp is a realist research and evaluation methodologist, a wannabe gardener and a dog tragic. She is a Professorial Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University, Darwin, where she leads the Realist Research Evaluation and Learning Initiative (RREALI). She also runs a private consultancy business specialising in realist research and evaluation. Gill was a member of the Rameses research teams which developed the international publication standards and quality standards for realist evaluation and realist literature review. She has provided in excess of 80 training workshops in 16 countries, developed several new methods for realist research and evaluation, and published in realist methodologies. In 2018 she was made a Fellow of the Australian Evaluation Society. She has recently been puzzling about two aspects of realist philosophy – epistemology (knowledge) and axiology (value) - and their implications for evaluation methods.

The tile of Gill Westhorp’s  talk is How do we know? Implications of realist epistemology for research and evaluation practice What do we know? What can we know, and how do we know that we know it? Epistemology is the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of knowledge. Different epistemologies underpin different approaches in research and evaluation. They have implications for what data is considered to be ‘valid’, how data can or should be collected, how data is analysed and interpreted, and under what conditions findings are portable to other contexts. Some noted realist authors have argued that realists are ‘realists ontologically and constructivists epistemologically’ (e.g. Maxwell, 2012). Others have argued that realist ontology puts boundaries around the interpretations that are reasonable to be made of reality, and thus draws a distinction between realist epistemology and constructivism. This paper falls in, and builds from, the second camp. It argues that there are areas of overlap, but also areas of distinction between, realist and constructivist epistemology, and that the distinctions have practical implications for methodology in realist research and evaluation.

Chares Demetriou

Chares Demetriou is Associate Professor of Sociology at Lund University, Sweden. He is a historical and political sociologist focusing on contentious politics in Ireland and Cyprus. His work also concerns realist processual epistemology, both as a topic of theoretical reflection and as a means to his empirical work. He has published research on, inter alia, processual comparative sociology, political violence legitimization, and social movement radicalization, including The Dynamics of Radicalization: A Relational and Comparative Perspective, with Eitan Alimi and Lorenzo Bosi (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Frans L Leeuw

Frans L Leeuw is Professor of Law, Public Policy and Social Science Research, Maastricht University. Earlier he was the Director of the Justice and Security Research Center (Dutch Justice Ministry), Professor of Evaluation Studies Utrecht University, Director of the Performance auditing and evaluation Department of the Dutch National Audit Office and Chief Inspector of Higher Education the Netherlands.

He was one of the co-founders (and President) of the European Evaluation Society as well as President of the Netherlands Evaluation Society.
His publications are mostly in the field of evaluation (program theories, evaluation designs and methods, mechanisms) in fields like regulation, crime and justice, development and education. His most recent book is: Empirical Legal Research (EE Publishers, together with Hans Schmeets (2016) in which evaluation of legal arrangements is a central theme.

Articles were published in Evaluation, The American Journal of Evaluation, The European Journal of Criminal Policy and Research, Zeitschrift fur Evaluation, Information Polity, New Directions for Evaluation, Evaluation Journal of Australasia Australasian, Journal of Development Effectiveness and many more.

Relevant for his keynote is also the work he did between 2009 and 2016 as one of the three directors of the National Science Program on Brain and Cognitions, where he managed (social neurosciences) research addressing crime, justice and security.

Denise De Souza

Denise De Souza is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Torrens University Australia where she is involved in a mixed-methods educational research and evaluation project informed by critical realist reasoning, and tenets from critical realism and realist social theory. From her doctoral work, she published the article ‘Elaborating the Context-Mechanism-Outcome configuration (CMOc) in realist evaluation: A critical realist perspective’, and has more recently been affiliated with the Healthy Homes and Neighbourhood (HHAN) Integrated Care Initiative by Sydney Local Health District, NSW Government, Australia.