CEDIL Methods Brief 4

Explaining what works: using causal chain analysis in systematic reviews

Systematic reviews summarise and synthesise the global evidence about an intervention. By incorporating causal chain analysis, a systematic review moves beyond the question of ‘does it work?’ to ‘why does it work, for whom, under what circumstances and at what cost?’.

The causal chain analysis approach is based on specifying the logic model or a theory of change for an intervention. Causal chain analysis-based systematic reviews can support programme designers and implementers to identify weak and missing links in the causal chain which in turn can help achieve better development outcomes.

CEDIL Methods Brief 4 lays out what causal chain analysis is, the benefits of using it, and how to do so. The brief provides guidance on conducting a causal chain analysis by illustrating with an example of a systematic review on farmer field schools.

Suggested citation: White, H. (2021) ‘Using causal chain analysis in systematic reviews’, CEDIL Methods Brief 4, London and Oxford: CEDIL. Available at: https://doi.org/10.51744/CMB4

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