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SCI-Dem goes to Nottingham: Comparing notes with other Realist Researchers

This week it was my huge privilege to be invited to talk about our just-completed SCI-Dem realist review with the Nottingham Realism Group – a group of researchers centred around the University of Nottingham, all with an interest in conducting research that takes a realist approach (i.e. what have become known as Realist Reviews and Realist Evaluations, following the approach to social science research pioneered by Ray Pawson and Nick Tilly). It was a brilliant experience. The talk is now online and can be found here.

SCI-Dem began way back in 2018 and we completed in December 2020. We have written and submitted our main results paper and have also developed booklets of recommendations (which are finished and I WILL post links to on this blog in the coming week!) Hence I’ve had lots of opportunity to talk and write about SCI-Dem, but this was something a little different…

When presenting on SCI-Dem usually (say, in a dementia-related conference webinar) I’ve had 20 minutes maximum and have had to spend sizeable chunk of my talk explaining what a Realist Review is. In this case I had a good hour if I wanted, and was talking to people who already knew about, and were likewise engaged with, realist research so this was at once 1) carte blanche to really get into the nitty gritty of our methods and “geek out” over realism 2) slightly scary because many in the audience would likely be much more knowledgeable and experienced in realist research than me!

In the end it was a really good talk to do, enjoyable to get to talk about the project in such detail and connect with lots of people who really understood what we were trying to do and why and were doing similar things in their own research. It was also very reassuring to know some of the “weird” elements and choices we made, and the challenges we faced, chimed with what others were doing. I’m glad to have “found” the Notts Realists and I’m sure we’ll be connecting more in the future as the Get Real project gets going. Thanks to Jo Howe, Louise Howe and Neil Chadborn for setting it up!

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