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Table 2 Criteria used for assessing the conceptual richness of sources

From: Implementing health promotion programmes in schools: a realist systematic review of research and experience in the United Kingdom

‘Conceptually rich’ [29] ‘Thicker description’ [30] but not ‘conceptually rich’ ‘Thinner description’ [30]
Theoretical concepts are unambiguous and described in sufficient depth to be useful Description of the programme theory or sufficient information to enable it to be ‘surfaced’ Insufficient information to enable the programme theory to be ‘surfaced’
Relationships between and amongst concepts are clearly articulated Consideration of the context in which the programme took place Limited or no consideration of the context in which the programme took place
Concepts sufficiently developed and defined to enable understanding without the reader needing to have first-hand experience of an area of practice Discussion of the differences between programme theory (the design and orientation of a programme—what was intended) and implementation (what ‘happened in real life’) Limited or no discussion of the differences between programme theory (the design and orientation of a programme—what was intended) and implementation (what ‘happened in real life’)
Concepts grounded strongly in a cited body of literature Recognition and discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the programme as implemented Limited or no discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the programme as implemented
Concepts are parsimonious (i.e. provide the simplest, but not over-simplified, explanation) Some attempt to explain anomalous results and findings with reference to context and data No attempt to explain anomalous results and findings with reference to context and data
- Description of the factors affecting implementation Limited or no description of the factors affecting implementation
- Typified by Typified by
 Terms—‘model’, ‘process’, or ‘function’  Mentioning only an ‘association’ between variables
 Verbs—‘investigate’, ‘describes’, or ‘explains’
 Topics—‘experiences’