Evaluation reading list, contacts and resources

23 February 2011

A list of essential evaluation literature, and some contacts courtesy of Ben RamalingamHarry Jones, and myself. The list focuses on evaluation but I’ve added some that include reflections on the evaluation of the contribution of research on policy (although, be warned, their approaches do attempt to measure impact and will disappoint anyone who thinks that robust and meaningful ‘evaluations’ of the impact of research on policy are possible):

Top 15 Evaluation-specific references

1. Basil Cracknell, Evaluating Development Aid: Issues, Problems and Solutions – still one of the best books on the topic of aid evaluation

2. Chris Roche, Impact Assessment for Development Agencies: Learning to Value Change – very clear and lucid explanation of impact assessments

3. Michael Quinn Patton, Utilisation-focused Evaluation (a free-to-download checklist) – perhaps the world’s best known evaluator on how to ensure evaluations get used – essential reading

4. OECD-DAC (2008) Principles of Evaluating Development Assistance A useful statement of principles by the DAC donors – worth knowing about

5. Cynthia Clapp-Wincek and Richard Blue (2001)  “Evaluation of Recent USAID Evaluation Experience”. U.S. Agency for International Development – an interesting study of evaluation in USAID, still relevant despite being 10 years old; or Richard Blue, Cynthia Clapp-Wincek and Holly Benner (2009) Beyond Success Stories: Monitoring and Evaluation for Foreign Assistance Results. An ‘updated’ version developed independently. There is also a Policy_Brief.

6. Feinstein, Osvaldo and Picciotto, Robert (2001) Evaluation and Poverty Reduction Collection of articles / short papers on a very comprehensive range of topics

7. Savedoff, William; Ruth Levine and Nancy Birdsall (2006) “When Will We Ever Learn? Improving Lives Through Impact Evaluation“. Center for Global Development Evaluation Gap Working Group – the paper which kickstarted much of the recent interest in RCTs

8. Ravallion, M (2008) Evaluation in the Practice of Development World Bank Policy Research Paper 4547 – sensible thoughts

9. Jones et al (2009) Improving impact evaluation production and use ODI Paper – the title says it all

10. Proudlock et al (2009) Improving Humanitarian Impact Assessment ALNAP Paper synthesising lessons from 4 case studies of impact assessments

11. Pawson, R (2003) ‘Nothing as Practical as a Good Theory’ in Evaluation 9, pp. 471–490 – a clear account of the role  of theory in evaluation

12. Jones, H (2009) The Gold Standard is Not a Silver Bullet for Evaluation – Harry’s opinion piece advocating multi-methods in impact assessments

13. Bob Williams ‘Systems concepts in Evaluation‘ -The first systems publication to focus exclusively on evaluation

14. Michael Quinn Patton (2010) Developmental evaluation: Applying complexity concepts to enhance innovation and use.

15. Sarah Earl, Fred Carden and Terry Smutylo, Outcome Mapping: building learning and reflection into development programs.

General references on research influencing policy (assessing the contribution of think tanks to policy)

1. Donald Abelson, A Capitol Idea – on the role of think-tanks in foreign policy processes

2. Jeffrey Puryear, Thinking Politics – on role of intellectuals in transition to democracy in Chile

3. Daniel Ricci The Transformation of American Politics: The New Washington and the Rise of Think Tanks that reviews the rise of think tanks and, unintentionally offers a way to assess their contribution to democratic policy making in what he calls ‘The Great Conversation’.

Three people worth contacting

1. Michael Quinn Patton – the leading thinker & communicator on evaluation issues

2. Niels Dabelstein, former head of Danida evaluation, running the evaluation of the Paris Declaration

3. Gunilla Törnqvist – current head of SADEV – the Swedish Agency for Development Evaluation.

Five key links worth checking

1. Outcome Mapping Learning Community 

2. A tip a day by and for evaluators

3. Monitoring and Evaluation News


5. Impact Evaluation, Development Effectiveness (3ie)