Blog: Weekly links | week of the 4th Feb 2019

We’re trying something new: five links to interesting articles, blogs, videos, and other resources about evaluation every Friday, every week.

We hope you’ll learn something; if you come across anything that you would like to share, please send a message to with the title ‘links’ — thanks! Here’s this week’s list:

  1. Authors from Cardiff University, with our own Chris Bonellrethink evaluation with complex systems in mind. With lots of examples, they make practical recommendations, including arguing ‘that … acknowledgment of complexity does not mean that evaluations must be complex, or investigate all facets of complexity’.
  2. Along similar lines, the team at Better Evaluation have a short blog on ‘demystifying systemic thinking’. They cite Professor Thomas Schwandt as saying that our evaluations are happing in ‘post-normal’ times, which is less about straight-forward problem-solving and more about embracing complexity, plurality, democracy, and context responsiveness. The blog refer to a new resource: Inclusive Systemic Evaluation for Gender Equality, Environments and Marginalized voices (ISE4GEMs) that offers ‘offers an alternative way of thinking and planning about evaluation practice and its application to complex (messy/wicked) problems.’
  3. In the journal Epidemiology, authors David Rehkopf and Sanjay Basu explain the synthetic control method for quantitative case-study impact evaluation. The method has been used by CfE member Aurélia Lepine and co-authors to estimate the impact of removing user charges for health care in Zambia.
  4. On the World Bank Impact blog, David Evans reviews The Goldilocks Challenge by Mary Kay Gugerty and Dean Karlan. The book discusses the balance between traditional monitoring and evaluation for NGOs and more recent trends towards impact evaluation.
  5. There’s been a fair amount of discussion of Angus Deaton and Nancy Cartwright’s Social Science and Medicine paper on the limitations of randomised controlled trials for informing policy. The journal published a large number of commentaries on the paper, all of which are interesting to read, although counterintuitively perhaps the best way of getting into the debates is to read the authors’ response to the commentaries first to get a sense of the debate.

That’s it for this week! Please do send anything that you would like to share.

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