Professor Ray Pawson


Given my job title, it will come as no surprise that my main interest lies in research methodology. This does not quite bracket me with the technical nerds, however, for I have written widely on the philosophy and practice of research, covering methods qualitative and quantitative, pure and applied, contemporaneous and historical. There is a common 'realist' thread underlying every word, albeit a modest, middle-range, empirically-rich kind of realism.

I am best known for writings on evaluation methodology and evidence-based policy, work which was supported over the years by three ESRC fellowships. I have acted as researcher and consultant on programme evaluation for various UK government departments and agencies. Currently, I am wrestling with clinical research methods, which are in dire need of realist inspiration.

Research interests


R Pawson (1989) A Measure for Measures: A Manifesto for Empirical Sociology London: Routledge

R Pawson and N Tilley (1997) Realistic Evaluation London: Sage.

R Pawson (2006) Evidence based Policy: A Realist Perspective London: Sage

R Pawson (2013) The Science of Evaluation: A Realist Manifesto London: Sage

New for 2018:

Ray Pawson (2018) The Realist Foundations of Evidence-Based Medicine: A Review Essay Evaluation 24 (1) 42 - 50

Cathy Brennan, Joanne Greenhalgh, Ray Pawson (2018) Guidance on guidelines: Understanding the evidence on the uptake of health care guidelines J Eval Clin Pract 24:105–116

Key websites:

These provide a wealth of contacts and information and will keep you in touch with the realist community.

Realism Leeds webpage 

JISCM@il webpage – Email discussion lists for the UK Education and Research communities

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD University of Lancaster 1978
  • BA University of Essex 1970

Student education

I am no longer taking research students.

Excellent supervision in all matters realist may be had in the School. Please contact:

  • Ana Mazano
  • Joanne Greenhalgh
  • Nick Emmel

For several videos with introductory material on realist evaluation and realist syntheses just Google - Pawson Videos.