Determine the evaluator qualities

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Different types of evaluation (e.g., impact assessment, action-oriented evaluation) will have different demands in terms of technical and other expertise and the degree of ‘distance’ between the evaluator and the subject.

The section below lists some essential evaluator characteristics or qualities matched to the main purpose (or use) of the evaluation - accountability, learning or innovation:


When the main purpose of the evaluation is accountability, the emphasis is on determining the worth or merit of a project/program. Some essential evaluator qualities are:

  • Should possess qualitative and quantitative expertise and experience.
  • Independence and credibility is of central importance.


When the main purpose of the evaluation is learning, the emphasis is on facilitating project / program improvements. Some essential evaluator qualities are:

  • Must be reflective, familiar and comfortable with concepts of adult education and organizational learning, and willing and able to take the role of facilitator.
  • Should possess qualitative and quantitative expertise and experience.


When the main purpose of the evaluation is innovation, the emphasis is on facilitating the design of new projects/programs based on what works. Some essential evaluator qualities are:

  • Should be a strong leader, but also a team player.
  • Should possess good analytical skills.

General qualities

Generally, the following basic qualities should be considered:

At the individual level:

  • Quantitative and/or qualitative research skills
    • Evaluation experience and expertise
    • Sensitivity to the project’s principles (e.g., empowerment, participatory action, capacity-building)
    • Ability to effectively communicate to the targeted users and audiences
    • Independence

Across the team:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research skills
  • Multidisciplinary skills (e.g., economic, demographic, environmental, sociological)
  • Thematic and contextual knowledge and experience
  • Research for development expertise and experience
  • Gender and cultural balance
  • Language skills
  • Familiarity with the organization and its partners

Regardless of the specific evaluator qualities needed to support a quality implementation of the evaluation, there are also important general characteristics: flexibility, ability to problem solve, and credibility.


The following item is a potential output from this sub-step. Where possible, it might be useful to research other deliverables that have also been shown to be effective.

  • List of evaluator qualities

IDRC-specific information

Evaluators of IDRC programming typically need to have these types of knowledge and skills:

A broad knowledge of the relevant fields of research, policy and practice including issues, trends, institutions, networks and policy communities in the low-and middle-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and/or the Caribbean.

Specific knowledge and experience in evaluating the results of development research and the contexts in which research programming takes place, for instance:

  • the influence of research and other evidence on changing policy and practice
  • capacity development in various aspects of conducting and using development research
  • the quality of development research –going beyond traditional academic measures such as bibliometrics
  • equity-focused research programming –being sensitive to different dimensions of marginalization
  • research programming in conflict-affected settings
  • scaling up innovations tested through research to products, processes, businesses
  • results of research through a value chain
  • research communications, knowledge translation

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