Editorial: Unlearning some of our social scientist habits

In this journal article, Jane Davidson advocates for better evaluation practice by picking apart four common practices in academic and social research that evaluators might inappropriately apply when working in the field of evaluation.

These practices are: including models or theories but not using them evaluatively; leaping to measurement too quickly; reporting results separately by data type or source; or ordering evaluation report sections like a Master’s thesis.

The information provided was supplied by Alice Macfarlan.

Authors and their affiliation

Jane Davidson (Real Evaluation)

Key features

This is a very short (4 page) article, structured around four areas of practice where evaluators can improve:

  1. Including models or theories but not using them evaluatively
  2. Leaping to measurement too quickly
  3. Reporting results separately by data type or source
  4. Ordering evaluation report sections like a Master’s thesis

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

This is a good resource to share, particularly for young and emerging evaluators who have come from an academic background and would benefit from a primer on what makes for good evaluation practice.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

It's short, it's an easy and enjoyable read, and it cuts to the heart of some important problems in evaluation practice and offers some practical alternatives.


Davidson, J. (2007, October). 'Editorial: Unlearning Some of our Social Scientist Habits'  in Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation, Volume 4, Number 8. Retrieved from: https://journals.sfu.ca/jmde/index.php/jmde_1/article/view/68/71