In recent years there has been an increase in the use of both experimental and realist methods in UK social research. This event was a debate between two prominent realist social researchers on the appropriateness and value of experimental methods.

In recent years there has been an increase in the use of experimental method in UK social research, particularly in the evaluation of health and education interventions. Indeed DECIPHer, at Cardiff University, has led in this field.  At the same time, there has also been a growth of interest and use of realist methods and approaches in social science more generally, but particularly in evaluation research.  Supporters of realist approaches have often been critical of experimental methods, because they argue they cannot capture the causal complexity of social mechanisms.  This event was a debate between two prominent realist social researchers on the appropriateness and value, or otherwise, of experiments. 

Dr Adam Fletcher, Deputy Director of DECIPHer, is an exponent of experimental method, but will argue that experiments can be compatible with a realist approach.

Professor David Byrne, of Durham University, has conducted both quantitative and qualitative policy related research for 40 years.  He too favours a realist approach, but argued that experimental method is compatible with realism under only very limited circumstances. 

Debate sponsored by

WISERD, Q-Step Cardiff, DECIPHer