series event

Assessing bias in evaluations of lobby and advocacy: a new assessment tool for 'small n' impact evaluation with an application to sexual and reproductive health and rights

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There has been a shift in global health and international development assistance towards programmes that aim to tackle the root causes of ill-health and poverty by improving the circumstances in which policy decisions are taken, including through more effective civil society lobby and advocacy (L&A). L&A programmes often aim to support complex partnerships among many actors in order to change policies or practices in a single institution like a Ministry of Health. Traditional 'large n' impact evaluation methods may therefore be neither feasible, nor meaningful if the appropriate hypothesis is one of contribution rather than attribution. There is a felt need among researchers, governments and NGOs for guidance on evaluation design, conduct and reporting for methods that can credibly evaluate causal claims in such circumstances.  

Dr Hugh Sharma Waddington and colleagues developed an assessment tool to evaluate the causal claims made in 'small n' impact evaluations using methods like contribution analysis, process tracing and outcome harvesting. The approach evaluates sources of bias with reference to study design, conduct and reporting. The tool was piloted in a synthesis of 32 programme evaluations of L&A programmes. Dr Hugh Sharma Waddington will present the assessment tool and discuss the findings with reference to the effectiveness of support for sexual and reproductive health and rights programming. 

​​This seminar is part of the London Evidence Syntheses and Research Use Seminars series organised by the Centre for Evaluation at LSHTM and the EPPI-Centre at UCL. 


Dr Hugh Sharma Waddington, LSHTM


Free and open to all, online. No registration required. A recording of this session will be available after the event on this page.


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