Methodological Implications of Critical Realism: Ontology, Method, and Impact

Organised by

Loughborough University


Professor Paul Downward
Co-presenters - Dr Dave Elder-Vass
Professor John Downey
Professor Andy Charlwood
Professor Ian Henry


28/01/2016 - 29/01/2016


Ashby Road


View in Google Maps  (LE11 3TU)


Denise Wade 01509 223368


Loughborough University is offering a series of two-day advanced training courses, funded by the ESRC.  These are aimed at doctoral students and early career researchers seeking to develop their methodological expertise.

The courses are small-scale and interactive, providing intensive, advanced research training, and an opportunity for a small group to work with a team of leading academics in the field.

Social, economic and management Research is often wedded to the particular use of methods of data collection and analysis. Explicit or implicit adherence to particular philosophical underpinnings frames the research. For example, in economic research typically secondary data are employed in econometric models with a focus on the identification of specific parameters in order to infer causal relationships. The causal framework is of a Humean Character, the ontological assumptions realist, and epistemological stress is on empiricism. Economics might therefore be variously characterised as working within a positivist or hypothestico-deductive paradigm. In contrast social research often embraces an opposite position. For example, research drawing on a post structuralist tradition, rejects these forms of ontological and epistemological reasoning and identifies the individual, as an entity comprised of tensions and conflicting knowledge claims, which leads to understanding as narrative. A corollary of this is that a variety of perspectives and methods can be required to create multiply informed interpretation.

Research methods training typically covers either quantitative or qualitative methods or, if mixed methods, can focuss on combining insights through particular software. None of this training focusses on the design stage of research and explores the underlying logic lying behind the use of the methods and their combination. The aim of this workshop is to provide an understanding of how realism can bring greater coherence to the combination of methods in research, whilst challenging an approach that gives primacy to one method. In all cases discussion and training is exemplified through applied work in sport, management and economics.


Advanced (specialised prior knowledge)


Five bursaries are available to cover cost of travel, subsistence, overnight stay and cost of course.

Website and registration


East Midlands


Epistemology, Explanatory Research and Causal analysis, Policy evaluation, Mixed Methods, Mixing qualitative and quantitative approaches, Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Research, Frameworks for Research and Research Designs (other), Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches

Related publications and presentations

Explanatory Research and Causal analysis
Policy evaluation
Mixed Methods
Mixing qualitative and quantitative approaches
Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Research
Frameworks for Research and Research Designs (other)
Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches

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