Evaluation of international development interventions: An overview of approaches and methods

This guide, produced by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group, aims to provide the reader with an accessible reference to evaluation approaches and methods used in international development contexts.

It begins by providing guidance to the reader about the scope and aim of the resource as well as details about the intended audience and structure of the document. The rest of the resource is divided into two key sections; the first provides methodological principles for designing evaluations, and the second details a number of specific approaches and methods that are relevant to international development settings.

Methodological principles

The authors consider the following principles "to be important for developing high-quality evaluations:

  1. Giving due consideration to methodological aspects of evaluation quality in design: focus, consistency, reliability, and validity
  2. Matching evaluation design to the evaluation questions
  3. Using effective tools for evaluation design
  4. Balancing scope and depth in multilevel, multisite evaluands
  5. Mixing methods for analytical depth and breadth
  6. Dealing with institutional opportunities and constraints of budget, data, and time
  7. Building on theory."

Evaluation approaches and methods in development

The approaches and methods are arranged into three groups:

  1. Main methodological approaches
    1. Efficiency analysis cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness
    2. Experimental approach
    3. Quasi-experimental approach
    4. Case study design
    5. Process tracing
    6. Qualitative comparative analysis
    7. Participatory evaluation
    8. System mapping and dynamics
    9. Outcome mapping and outcome harvesting
    10. Social network analysis
  2. Specific methods: Data collection methods
    1. Structured literature review
    2. Qualitative interview
    3. Focus group
    4. Survey
    5. Delphi method
    6. Developing and using scales
    7. Emerging technologies for data collection
  3. Specific methods: Data analysis methods. Including methods such as:
    1. Conducting statistical analysis with "traditional" data sets
    2. Emerging applications in data science and data analytics
    3. Using computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software


Vaessen, J., Lemire, S. & Befani, B. (2020). Evaluation of International Development Interventions: An Overview of Approaches and Methods. Independent Evaluation Group. Washington, DC: World Bank. https://ieg.worldbankgroup.org/methods-resource/evaluation-international-development