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Most evaluations require ways of addressing questions about cause and effect – not only documenting what has changed but understanding why.
Impact evaluation, which focuses on understanding the long-term results from interventions (projects, programs, policies, networks and organisations), always includes attention to understanding causes.
Understanding causes can also be important in other types of evaluations. For example in a process evaluation, there often needs to be some explanation of why implementation is good or bad in order to be able to suggest ways it might be improved or sustained.
In recent years there has been considerable development of methods for understanding causes in evaluations, and also considerable discussion and disagreement about which options are suitable in which situations.