Learning from practice: Inception reports and social learning - do you have examples or advice to share?


The wonderful thing about BetterEvaluation is that it is, at its core, a platform to co-create and share knowledge about how to better conduct, use and manage evaluations. 

Evaluation practitioners and managers, experts and partner organizations work together to create and learn from improved knowledge and practice in monitoring and evaluation. We support three interconnected areas of activity - capacity strengthening, M&E research and development, and the BetterEvaluation toolbox, which includes the Rainbow Framework and the BetterEvaluation resource library. 

We're really proud that the content on BetterEvaluation has been co-created by BetterEvaluation members from all across the world, from a range of sectors, disciplines, paradigms and regions; It means we're learning from our members' practice and experiences. 


The BetterEvaluation site has information on more than 300 different options for evaluation (methods and processes), organised around the Rainbow Framework tasks involve in doing evaluation.

Many of these already have a wealth of information from users, including examples, links to more details guides, and advice on choosing and using them.  We’re always keen to hear from you if you have suggestions for improving the pages.  We’ve also started a new process of systematically reviewing pages and seeking your input.  Here are two options we’re focusing on at the moment, and some specific ways you can help us make them better:

Inception report

An inception report of an evaluation is prepared by an evaluator after an initial review of relevant documentation. It sets out the conceptual framework to be used in an evaluation, the key evaluation questions and methodology, including information on data sources and collection, sampling and key indicators. The inception report also includes a timeline for the evaluation project and drafts of data collection instruments.  We've included this in the Rainbow Framework as one of the planning documents sometimes developed during an evaluation.

What this page needs:

  • Examples - Do you have an example of an inception report you could share with the BetterEvaluation community?
  • Guides - Have you come across (or written) a good guide for how to prepare an inception report?
  • Advice for choosing this option - Do you have any advice for when someone should choose to do an inception report? E.g. When is it appropriate? What are the benefits and disadvantages? If you've done one, why did you do it?
  • Advice for using this option - What are some things that people should know when doing an inception report? Are there any traps they should watch out for or principles to guide their practice?

Social Learning

Social Learning is an approach to learning that focuses on how people learn through social interactions, such as modelling, making connections, sharing experiences and resources, collaboration and self-organization.  In the Rainbow Framework we have included this as a way of supporting the use of evaluation

What this page needs:

  • Examples - We'd love to see some examples from your practice about a time you've used or encountered social learning to support the use of an evaluation
  • Guides / Discussion papers - What resources have you come across for facilitating social learning that you think would be worthwhile sharing? 
  • Advice for choosing this option - Have you got any advice for when someone should choose to facilitate an social learning to support use? When is most appropriate? What are some of the benefits and disadvantages? 
  • Advice for using this option - What are some things that people should know about facilitating social learning? 

Can you help us out to fill some of these gaps?

How to share your knowledge

You can click the contribute content link below to find out how to contribute to BetterEvaluation. If you are unsure of whether you have anything valuable to share we'd really encourage you to reach out to us anyway and discuss your ideas with us - you might be surprised at how much you have to offer. 

Contribute content

Got a great resource to share? Let us know:

  • The key features of the resource
  • Who the resource is useful for
    • Advocates for evaluation;
    • Commissioners/managers of evaluation;
    • Evaluation users;
    • Evaluators;
    • Those involved in evaluation capacity strengthening;
    • Other – please specify
  • How you have used or intend on using this resource
  • Why would you recommend it to other people

Thanks in advance - we look forward to seeing what you have to share!