Review evaluation quality

Evaluate evaluation, meta-evaluation, quality-assurance review

Evaluating the quality of an evaluation can be done before it begins (reviewing the plan) or during or after the evaluation (reviewing the evaluation products or processes). This is sometimes called a quality review or meta-evaluation.

Some organisations require formal review of evaluations at specific stages. This is often focused on the evaluation design or plan, the inception report (which might include revising the evaluation design), and the evaluation report or reports. Knowing that specific outputs, such as an evaluation plan, will be subject to external scrutiny can also improve its quality.

Reviewing the evaluation plan and inception report can potentially improve the quality of the evaluation, as it is still possible to revise the design and implementation plans.

Reviewing the evaluation report can lead to improvements in how messages are communicated but there is often limited ability to address any deficiencies in the evaluation. It can however ensure that the key messages from the evaluation are clear and consistent with the findings. A formal review of an evaluation report can be particularly important where its findings are likely to be contentious.

Reviewing the evaluation will also help to identify how key messages may be interpreted, if there are any concerns about the methodology that need to be discussed, and possible ways that the findings will be used. Being mindful of how the evaluation findings could be received helps in presenting the findings in a way that is likely to support use.

Involving the primary intended users and other key stakeholders in a review of the evaluation also supports the use of the evaluation findings by building the ‘personal factor’ – the involvement of people who care about the evaluation and how the findings will be used.

The options listed below are different processes and tools for evaluating evaluations. The criteria for evaluating evaluations are shown on the page Determine what constitutes high-quality evaluation.


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