Student Resources

This site is intended to enhance your use of RealWorld Evaluation, 3rd Edition, by Michael Bamberger and Linda Mabry. Please note that all the materials on this site are especially geared toward maximizing your understanding of the material.

SAGE Case Studies

Case studies curated from the SAGE Research Methods platform are available to accompany chapters 9, 10, 17, and 18.

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Chapter 9: Standards and Ethics

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Article: Rudnik, E., and Newbury, J. (2018) Mental Health Consumer Voices Through an Ethical Filter – A Mixed-Methods Case Study in a Rural Setting. SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2.

Summary: The focus of this research was to evaluate the impact of a specialized inpatient mental health service in rural South Australia. A mixed-methods design included the collection of qualitative data via phone and face-to-face interviews with consumers, carers, non-government community partners, and interprofessional health workforce affiliated with the service. This research methodology case study summarizes the ethics approval process, which included Aboriginal Health Research Council approval and two additional University Human Research Ethic Committees (HRECs), and considers the methodological implications of the need to protect patient and stakeholder privacy while also attempting to minimize selection bias.


  1. What recruitment methods are likely to maximize mental health consumer involvement but still protect the privacy and wellbeing of those who wish to remain unknown or may be unsettled by an invitation to participate in research?
  2. How do we give a voice and involve people in research who have low literacy and English comprehension?
  3. What are the ethical and practical dilemmas for researchers who are paid by a service to evaluation consumer satisfaction and service outcomes?
  4. What is mixed methods, and why does pragmatism and critical realism align with these?

Chapter 10: Theory-Based Evaluation and Theory of Change

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Article: Warwick-Booth, L., et al. (2014) Using the Theory of Change to Support an Evaluation of a Health Promotion Intervention. SAGE Research Methods Cases.

Summary: Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust commissioned independent researchers, staff from the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Metropolitan University, to evaluate their Health Champions Program. This case study provides an account of the evaluation, taking the reader through the methods that were used and in particular focusing upon the use of a theory of change approach that is associated with realistic evaluation as a specific approach. The case sheds light upon the challenges of evaluating practice initiatives as well as highlighting the usefulness of theory of change as an evaluation tool.


  1. Does the theory of change used in this evaluation seem like a conventional or complexity-responsive TOC? Why? What would it look like if it were the other kind?
  2. In conducting evaluation research, how might the goals of the commissioners contrast with those of the researchers? What might this mean for the evaluation process?
  3. There are often power imbalances within research. Reflect upon how some of these imbalances might be addressed in evaluation research contexts.
  4. Consider some of the ways in which you might disseminate evaluation findings, given that such research has the potential to influence both policy and practice.

Chapter 17: Gender Evaluation: Integrating Gender analysis into evaluations

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Article: Vanishree, Joseph (2016). Methodology for an Evaluation Study: India’s Working Women’s Hostels Scheme. SAGE Research Methods Cases.

Summary: This case study evaluates the implementation process of one of the schemes, or programs, of the Government of India. It examines the outcome and impact of the scheme on working women in India. In the implementation evaluation, the research team tried to monitor the fidelity of the scheme and its mode of delivery. In the outcome evaluation, the research team investigated the demonstrable effects on specifically defined outcomes of the scheme. Finally, in the impact evaluation, a broader assessment of the overall effects of the scheme is carried out.


  1. In this case, gender sensitivity and cultural sensitivity training were given to the research team before collecting data through interview schedules. Explain their importance.
  2. Explain the process involved in evaluation research.
  3. How can the findings of an evaluation study be used to frame policies or schemes of social development?
  4. Examine the limitations of the interview schedules in the light of this case study. Discuss how these limitations could be addressed.
  5. Analyze the association between the objectives of this study and the recommendations of the study.

Chapter 18: Evaluation in the Age of Big Data

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Article: Fazekas, M. (2014) The Use of ‘Big Data’ for Social Sciences Research: An Application to Corruption Research. SAGE Research Methods Case Studies.

Summary: This methodology case study uses the example of an ongoing research project looking into high-level corruption in public procurement in Central and Eastern Europe. This project collects hundreds of thousands of official procurement announcements available online, such as contract award announcements. It uses computer algorithms to download announcement texts from which then useful information, ‘variables’ are extracted. The so developed new database sheds novel light on the process of corruption in public procurement and allows for testing well-established theories of corruption.


  1. Identify a data source which can be harnessed in line with this case study's approach. Discuss its strengths and weaknesses in terms of access, content and value for social sciences research.
  2. Which other data sources could you link to it to increase database scope and cross-check database content?
  3. How would you design a data collection exercise for the data source you identified?
  4. Why are traditional significance tests inadequate for analysis using ‘Big Data’? What are the alternatives?
  5. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using readily available data sources such as Google compared to data collected directly by a research team from the Internet.


The appendices provide more detailed resource material for the chapters to which they refer. They include examples of checklists and indicators, evaluation tools and techniques, and also case studies providing examples of completed evaluations. Many of the technical terms in these appendices are included in the Glossary in the book.