Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Contact Details

Research Students

Professor Ray Pawson

Emeritus Professor of Social Research Methodology

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.

Research Interests

I am best known for writings on evaluation methodology and evidence-based policy, work which has been supported over the years by three ESRC fellowships. I have acted as researcher and consultant on programme evaluation for various UK government departments. Currently, I am writing a book posing a big question: Social science - it's older but is it any wiser?


I teach two MA modules in Fundamentals of Social Research and Evaluation Research.

PhD Supervision

I have supervised a dozen research students to successful completion (my one 'failure' being detained at Her Majesty's pleasure). If there is a focus, topics share a concern with something evaluative on some area of social policy. If there isn't a focus, often a problem with PhD work, my job, being a specialist in research design, is to help to provide one. I am waiting, hope beyond hope, to supervise a student seeking to conduct methodological research. 

Please note: From 2015 Professor Pawson is taking on no new doctoral students - inquiries from students interested in realist methods should be directed to Drs Emmel, Greenhalgh and Manzano.

Key Publications


  • Pawson RD, Evidence-based policy: a realist perspective (London : Sage, 2006), xi, 196 pp

  • Pawson RD, Tilley N, Realistic Evaluation, 1/2/3/4 (Sage London, 1997), 1, xvii + 235p

  • Pawson RD, A Measure for Measures: A manifesto fo empirical sociology (London: Routledge, 1989), ix + 337p

Journal articles

  • Pawson RD, Manzano-Santaella A, ‘A Realist Diagnostic Workshop’, Evaluation: international journal of theory, research and practice, 18.2 (2012), 176-191
    DOI: 10.1177/1356389012440912

  • Monaghan MP, Pawson R, Wicker K, ‘The Precautionary Principle and Evidence-Based Policy Making’, Evidence and Policy, 8.2 (2012), 171-191

  • Greenhalgh T, Wong G, Westhorp G, Pawson RD, ‘Protocol - realist and meta-narrative evidence synthesis: Evolving Standards (RAMESES)’, BMC Medical Research Methodology, 11.15 (2011)
    DOI: 10.1186/1471-2288-11-115


  • Pawson RD, ‘Simple Principles for the Evaluation of Complex Programmes’, in Public Health Evidence: Tackling Health Inequalities, ed. by Swann AKC and Kelly M (Oxford University Press, 2006), 223-238

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