Saturday, 30 November 2013

Our search for evaluations

As explained in our October 2013 post “What evaluations do we review?” we have looked for evaluation reports in English that meet certain criteria. Our search started on 23 September 2013. We used a three-pronged strategy: (1) web-based search (“web search”), (2) communication with contacts in the fields of VAWG and evaluation, and snowballing via these contacts (“snowballing”) and (3) specialised web-based networks (“DFID and helpdesk”). In addition to evaluation reports, we identified meta-evaluations and specialised publications on “best practices” to end VAWG, as well as literature on evaluation quality and effectiveness.

For the web search, we used combinations of the terms “evaluation”, “review”, “assessment”, “best practice” and 38 terms closely related to violence against women and girls and work to end VAWG, such as “violence against women”, “gender-based violence”, “forced sexual initiation”, “forced marriage”, “human trafficking”, “masculinities”. The web search yielded many duplicates and triplicates, i.e. it reached a high degree of saturation which could be expected in view of the overlaps between these terms.

However, focussing on the web search would have yielded incomplete results. As shown in the figure below, 84 per cent of the evaluation reports that we identified came from a single source, i.e. either from web-search, direct communication with our networks or snowballing.

This confirms that it was a good idea to combine three search methods. We have been particularly impressed by the effects of our snowballing action. It was initiated through two channels – (i) direct contact to evaluation and VAWG specialists known by DFID and the Review team, and (ii) publication of our call for evaluation reports on the following list servers and social web sites: Platform for Evidence-Based Learning list server (PELICAN), professional groups on LinkedIn (AEA, Evaluations and Development), Michaela’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and our blogs and, after registration of the new domain,

Sending out e-mails yielded an excellent response. Examining the messages received within three weeks from our call, we counted some 175 persons who had received the call by e-mail (as direct addressees or in copy). The actual number is probably higher, as we cannot assume that we have been copied into all e-mail correspondence. The interest raised by social web posts was considerable: (Michaela’s blog) registered a peak of 270 page views on the day our call for evaluation proposals was posted on the above-mentioned platforms (as compared to about 40-120/day in “normal” times).

Soon we will describe what kinds of evaluations we have found. Our draft Scoping Report is with the Review Reference Group; when we'll have the final version we'll provide a link to it on this blog.

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