Loughborough University
LG thesis final version for IJC.pdf (2.4 MB)

Synergies of syntheses: a comparison of systematic review and scientific realist evaluation methods for crime prevention

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posted on 2010-10-20, 10:49 authored by Louise E. Grove
This thesis makes two significant contributions to the advancement of knowledge within crime prevention. The first of these is to evaluate the success of repeat victimisation prevention interventions. Interventions across four crime types are assessed herein, and the context-mechanisms-outcome configurations examined. The second contribution of this thesis is to assess two techniques of meta-evaluation: systematic reviews and realist syntheses. Each of these techniques is used in turn to assess the repeat victimisation prevention interventions. The contribution of each technique to the knowledge pool is then discussed, and the question of whether they are complementary or contradictory approaches answered. The thesis is framed in the context of evolutionary epistemology, which is the philosophy underpinning both approaches to meta-evaluation addressed herein. The thesis starts, with an examination of: firstly, how the evaluation methods in question have evolved, and the background to their scientific worth; and secondly, how situational crime prevention measures have evolved over time. The thesis then examines the two competing approaches for their contribution to the evaluation ecosystem by using both to assess repeat victimisation prevention interventions. Finally, the last section poses the question of whether it is survival of the fittest, or whether co-existence or adaptation could be the key to survival for these two meta-evaluative methodologies. Repeat victimisation prevention is revealed as an effective way of reducing crime, with a need for further research to apply the principle across further crime types. A requirement is identified for a greater breadth and depth of information to be included in future crime prevention evaluations. The systematic review is shown to be a useful way of assessing the overall effectiveness of the interventions, whilst the realist synthesis fills in the detail of why some interventions work and others fail. It is concluded that both approaches to meta-evaluation have useful contributions to make, and that a third way incorporating the best elements from each method should be developed.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


Loughborough University

Rights holder

© L.E. Grove

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

EThOS Persistent ID



  • en


Graham Farrell

Qualification name

  • PhD

Qualification level

  • Doctoral