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Over the last five years, Solent has established itself as a key contributor to realist informed research and evaluation. The key aim of realist enquiry is to address complexity by understanding how and why things work, which spans social change interventions and human interaction within contexts.

The aim of our group is to bring together everyone who is interested in realist evaluation, synthesis and research. Those who are interested may be carrying out PhDs, conducting evaluations, or established researchers.

The group meets regularly, holding a two-part seminar which includes a 'reading room' where we come together to explore and make sense of an academic texts and a presentation of current research.

Chart showing how the Solent University Realist Research Group works

Want to know more? This webinar with Justin Jagosh, Kev Harris and Henry Dorling explores five burning questions about realist evaluation.


Kevin HarrisKevin Harris
Kevin is the founder of SURRG and established the research group up in 2019. Kevin has an extensive track record in realist evaluation. His PhD mobilised realist evaluation with practitioners in the sport for development field and since then he has been involved in a number of commissioned realist evaluation and research projects in the south of England. View Kevin's publications.

See Kevin's full profile

Henry Dorling, Senior LecturerHenry Dorling
Henry is an established member of SURRG. His current PhD research is a realist evaluation of physically active teaching and learning and a more movement-centred pedagogical approach in primary schools and the link with the school wide physical activity provision, how it is implemented and the potential benefits. He is employing a realist evaluation methodology in order to understand more fully the casual mechanisms that lead to specific outcome in the complex and dynamic environment of  a primary school.

Henry is interested in monitoring and evaluation in sport development, employing realist methods to understand more fully the evidence claims where sport is used to address social issues. Henry has undertaken externally funded research using realist evaluation (for example the Evaluation of the Royal Chelsea Hospital in 2017) and presented research at numerous national and international conferences advocating the use of realist methods in the sport, physical activity and education arenas.

See Henry's full profile

Chad Oatley, Associate LecturerChad Oatley
Chad is a senior practitioner in public health on the Isle of Wight; an associate lecturer at Solent University, teaching on monitoring and evaluation; and is involved in a range of research collaborations across universities and disciplines. 

In his part time PhD training, Chad focuses on enhancing collaborative approaches to realist evaluation methodology within asset-based/strength-based approaches to community development.  

See Chad's full profile

karen-burnellKaren Burnell
Karen has experience of conducting realist evaluations in the area of veteran mental health. Having received funding from Forces in Mind Trust, Karen evaluated a drop in service for veterans in Portsmouth.

Karen has recently won funding to evaluate initiatives that offer archaeology to support veteran mental health and wellbeing using realist methods.

See Karen's full profile


Official launch event

Friday 25 October 2019

We were delighted to have held the launch event of the Solent University Realist Research Group (SURRG). The launch event celebrated the work we have done so far around the culture for realist research, evaluation and practice at Solent - and with key partners - with the intention to build and raise our profile. There were a variety of engaging presentations throughout the morning which culminated in a round-table discussion and ended with lunch and networking.

Our events are open to everyone with an interest in realist research and/or evaluation. If you are new to the approach and interested, please come along!

Get in touch

If you are interested in joining the group please contact for more information.

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