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Which review is that? A guide to review types.

A typology of literature reviews

Realist Synthesis - Realist Review


"Realist reviews have emerged as a strategy for synthesising evidence and focuses on providing explanations for why interventions may or may not work, in what contexts, how and in what circumstance...The findings from the synthesis focus on explaining to the reader why (or not) the intervention works and in what ways, to enable informed choices about further use and/or research" (Rycroft-Malone, 2012)


Further Reading/Resources

Key paper
Wong, G., Greenhalgh, T., Westhorp, G., Buckingham, J., & Pawson, R. (2013). RAMESES publication standards: realist syntheses. BMC medicine, 11(1), 1-14. Full Text
Booth, A. (2018). Innovative approaches to systematic reviewing. In P. Levay & J. Craven (Eds.), Systematic Searching (pp. 25-50). Facet. Catalogue Link

Pawson, R., Greenhalgh, T., Harvey, G., & Walshe, K. (2005). Realist review-a new method of systematic review designed for complex policy interventions. Journal of health services research & policy, 10(1_suppl), 21-34. Full Text

Emmel, N., Greenhalgh, J., Manzano, A., Monaghan, M., & Dalkin, S. (Eds.). (2018). Doing realist research. Sage. Catalogue Link - eBook also available via Sage Research Methods



Harniess, P. A., Gibbs, D., Bezemer, J., & Purna Basu, A. (2022). Parental engagement in early intervention for infants with cerebral palsy—A realist synthesis. Child: Care, Health and Development, 48(3), 359-377. Full Text


Rycroft-Malone, J., McCormack, B., Hutchinson, A. M., DeCorby, K., Bucknall, T. K., Kent, B., ... & Wilson, V. (2012). Realist synthesis: illustrating the method for implementation research. Implementation Science, 7(1), 1-10. Full Text