Evaluation for policy makers - A straightforward guide

Evaluation for policy makers. A straightforward, user-friendly and practical guide to evaluation in the policy making cycle.

Chapter 1: What is evaluation?

A note about jargon

We've tried to keep jargon to a minimum but we've included a jargon-buster, in case you'd find it useful. If you see a word in bold, that means it's in the jargon-buster.

What is evaluation?

Evaluations use research methods to look at:

1. Whether policies have been implemented as intended (process evaluations) or

2. To measure whether outcomes have been achieved and how (impact evaluations) or

3. To assess if the benefits of the policy outweighed the costs (economic evaluations).

Evaluations should provide credible, impartial evidence about how your policy is working and enable the timely incorporation of its findings, lessons and recommendations into the decision-making process.

Importantly, evaluation is not about judging an individual or a team personally. Rather, it is an opportunity to:

  • Check if a policy, service or intervention is being delivered as intended
  • Measure the impact a policy, service or intervention is having
  • For service users, stakeholders and practitioners to contribute their knowledge and views about how policies could be improved.

At the end of the process, evaluation provides feedback, recognises achievements that have been made, identifies ways of improving and supports evidence-based decision-making.


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