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 7: What should I do with evaluation findings?

Communicating the results

Although this is one of the last evaluation tasks, discuss upfront how the results will be shared. Most importantly, identify who your primary users are. Of course the primary user may be you and your policy team but your findings can be communicated to others for different reasons. For example, lessons learned from the evaluation can be helpful to stakeholders in the same field; or it may be worthwhile remoulding some of the findings into articles or stories to attract wider attention.

Sharing the findings more widely

Although a final evaluation report is important it is not the only way to distribute and communicate findings. Depending on your audience and budget, it may be important to consider different ways of delivering evaluation findings:

  • Presenting findings at seminars and conferences
  • Community events
  • Tweets and other social media
  • Sharing written briefings for different audiences
  • Developing a short video version of findings (e.g. on Vimeo)
  • Sharing stories and pictures from the evaluation (depending on what options you have used to gather data)
  • Creating large posters or infographics of findings for display

Using evaluation findings

How the evaluation results will be used should be considered at the start as this will shape the evaluation brief. For example, if the aim is to use the results to adjust the policy then taking an improvement approach will make sure that the evaluation is focused on lessons learned. The report should also include suggestions for improvement as well as unearthing good practice. You should also consider how to respond to both positive and negative findings early on so you can prepare before the evaluation is completed.

Dealing with challenging findings

This issue highlights the value of taking a learning approach to all evaluations - nothing is a 'failure' if we agree to learn from evaluations and take action to improve. This also highlights the importance of rigour, for example obtaining decent sample sizes for pilots and using control groups.Better quality evaluations provide more justification for action.

Negative results are equally valuable as a way of identifying ‘what not to do’. Of course, the reasons for failure should be fully explored – was it a poor policy or poorly implemented?

Take Homes Messages

  • Talk through your evaluation requirements with analysts at policy development stage
  • Make sure early policy decisions don't unintentionally hamper the scope of an evaluation further down the line
  • The evaluation method and the type of data collected will depend on what you want to know and what is feasible to do
  • Evaluations can be as much about learning and improvement as they are about accountability
  • Manage expectations from the start - evaluations can't answer every question!


Email: Social Research

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