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Evaluating research projects "ex post"

Objectives of evaluation

The authors of a specific guide for evaluating a research ex post must very explicitly and very clearly formulate the objectives of evaluation to which their guide responds. What is it that the evaluator will want to know in this specific case? What will be done with the answers?

Evaluating a research may have various purposes, and sometimes more than one for a given project. Possible objectives are listed in "objectives of evaluation". In the present case of ex post evaluation of projects, the most common objectives of evaluation can be:

  • Verifying the achievements of the research project,
  • Evaluating the relevance of the developed/applied methodology,
  • Evaluating whether the research project did meet the needs and the expectations of the local stakeholders (populations, partner institutions),
  • Checking the valorisation of the research
  • Recommending, or deciding to publish a manuscript
  • Recommending, or deciding to continue funding (of an on-going research, of a new proposal)
  • Drawing lessons for future projects and their funding
  • Helping evaluating a researcher, a team, an institution...
  • Granting a degree
  • Awarding a prize or a distinction

Formulating the questions of evaluation

At the end of the research project, we should expect to have a written result (a report or a publication) that clearly explains the problem or the question at the start, the methodology followed, the results obtained, and the final conclusions with respect to the original problem or question.
The specific guide's authors will clearly formulate the questions of evaluation in order that the evaluators, using the guide, will know exactly why, what for and for whom they will be conducting the evaluation of a given research, and which information they are expected to provide.

Here are a few examples of such questions:

  • Is the paper well written, with a clear structure that underlines the problem, the methodology, the results and the conclusions? Is its description sufficiently comprehensive?
  • Does the conclusion constitute a valuable step forward in our knowledge?

The dimensions to be considered

Evaluation of a research project is necessarily multidimensional. Hence the need to carefully choose the dimensions to be taken into consideration in each specific evaluation guide.

The basic dimensions of evaluation of a development research project ex post are :

Other dimensions may also be considered, depending upon the sponsor, the objectives of the evaluation, and the context. Examples are:

See the annex on dimensions for details.

Writing up a specific guide for evaluating projects ex post

From here on the authors will follow - flexibly, and adjusting the pace and orientation of their work - the steps provided in the page "writing the specific guide":


  • Step 1. Preliminary stage fulfilled
  • Step 2. Questions of evaluation, dimensions, criteria
  • Step 3. Select procedures
  • Step 4. Conditions of evaluation
  • Step 5. Actual drafting of the specific guide

Caution: such steps are the various stages of production of an acceptable and useful specific guide. They are not the steps to be followed by the evaluators when they conduct their evaluation.