Evaluation Standards


Evaluation standards identify how the quality of an evaluation will be judged.  They can be used when planning an evaluation as well as for meta-evaluation (evaluating the evaluation).

Many organizations have guidelines which address issues of quality and ethics together.  For example, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) Norms for Evaluation state that evaluation in UNDP should be:

  • Independent — Management must not impose restrictions on the scope, content, comments and recommendations of evaluation reports. Evaluators must be free of conflict of interest.
  • Intentional — The rationale for an evaluation and the decisions to be based on it should be clear from the outset.
  • Transparent — Meaningful consultation with stakeholders is essential for the credibility and utility of the evaluation.
  • Ethical — Evaluation should not reflect personal or sectoral interests. Evaluators must have professional integrity, respect the rights of institutions and individuals to provide information in confidence, and be sensitive to the beliefs and customs of local social and cultural environments.
  • Impartial — Removing bias and maximizing objectivity are critical for the credibility of the evaluation and its contribution to knowledge.
  • Of high quality — All evaluations should meet minimum quality standards defined by the Evaluation Office 
  • Timely — Evaluations must be designed and completed in a timely fashion so as to ensure the usefulness of the findings and recommendations
  • Used — Evaluation is a management discipline that seeks to provide information to be used for evidence-based decision making. To enhance the usefulness of the findings and recommendations, key stakeholders should be engaged in various ways in the conduct of the evaluation.





UNDP 2011, The Evaluation Policy of UNDP, Executive Board Document viahttp://web.undp.org/evaluation/  .

Updated: 20th July 2017 - 4:22pm


Anonymous's picture
Liisa Horelli

I liked very much the standards article. However, is it true that "Evaluation is a management discipline that seeks to provide information to be used for evidence-based decision making"? Does this mean that you cannot carry out an evaluation unless there is a TOR with some institution? As I am currently writing a chapter on Evaluation from the gender perspective, I would like to do an evaluation of  self-organising around spatial development. These groups do not commission evaluations although they are willing to cooperate in it. Will this not be an evaluation although the other standards will be followed? 

Patricia Rogers's picture
Patricia Rogers

Thanks for your comment, Liisa.  You've highlighted the need to look carefully at the appropriateness of using standards that have been developed to suit a different context.  The UNDP standards have been developed for their context, to cover their discrete evaluations that have a formal TOR.  

It's important to recognise that there are different types of evaluation.  Evaluation can be done by an external evaluator/evaluation team, by an internal evaluator/evaluation team, by the group involved in implementation, or by the community or advocates for the community - or by a combination of these.  You can read more about these choices on the task page Decide Who Will Conduct The Evaluation - http://www.betterevaluation.org/en/plan/manage_evaluation/who_conducts 

The other issue you've highlighted is the description of evaluation as a management discipline.  This is not the only way to describe evaluation, especially if management is understood to refer to formal, bureaucratic management.  As you've suggested, evaluation can be used by community groups and self-managed networks.  

We'd be interested in hearing more about the chapter you're writing on evaluation from the gender perspective.  You might find Gillian Fletcher's blog  useful http://www.betterevaluation.org/en/blog/gender_injustice_and_inequality-... and her guide to addressing gender in impact evaluation http://www.betterevaluation.org/resources/addressing_gender_in_impact_ev....

Please let us know if you would like to recommend other resources to add to our thematic page on evaluation and gender analysis http://www.betterevaluation.org/en/themes/gender_analysis

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