Why Guidelines, what for, and for whom?
Persons who have to conduct evaluation of development research meet extremely diverse situations in terms of objectives and disciplines.
Furthermore the situation/context in which they operate will strongly influence their choices and procedures.
Yet in every case they use – or will use – evaluation instruments (such as procedures, grids, questionnaires, scales, etc.) which generally are imposed upon them by the evaluation‘s sponsor. Accordingly, the evaluator may have to build his/her own specific guide.
The purpose of the present Guidelines is therefore to provide the people in charge of constructing a specific guide for evaluating development research with a set of commonly agreed principles and rules of good practice, to help them in :
- building their own evaluation criteria;
- adapting existing tools to new needs and/or specific situations
- in validating, assessing or utilising an evaluation procedure specific to their objectives.
What is called “specific guide” here are not at all complex and heavy documents. They can range from (1) just a grid or a questionnaire plus instructions for use; to (2) a short text with introduction, tools and procedures, and a few annexes; through (3) a full-fledged guide.
The prime target reader of these Guidelines therefore is the author or future author of a specific evaluation guide.
The evaluators themselves can be a secondary target group.
What is development research?
In the present Guidelines, development research is interpreted as “research in a development context”. There can be many definitions of development. For a more detailed discussion see in "relevance for development".
Presentation of the Guidelines
These Guidelines are intended to be a reference and a guide of good practice about building a specific evaluation guide in a given situation.
As the visitor will promptly find out, much freedom is left to him/her to proceed according to the context in which he/she works, his/her specific objectives, his/her own concept of development and of scientific quality.
The Guidelines format is determined by one major consideration : to be practical and attractive. The amount of information provided to meet the highly diversified needs of the target group is voluminous. But the reader should not be deterred, because he/she will easily find what is of immediate interest to him/her. A breakdown was adopted :
The text itself is composed of short pages, easily accessible, and referring abundantly to a set of annexes.
It will be up to the user to decide which annexes he /she is going to read, let alone use. In most cases that would mean only a protion of the annexes.
Using the Guidelines
The present Guidelines are explicitly intended to be used flexibly. It is up to each author of a specific evaluation guide to pick what he / she deems useful in his/her particular situation. He / She should however respect the specificity of each discipline, and take into account the needs and wishes of researchers from both the North and the South.
These Guidelines can also be used for revising existing instruments and procedures.