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Who needs evaluation ? Actors and stakeholders

They are people who have a stake or an interest in good development research and/or need to make decisions about research and researchers in the field. Their diversity is remarkable, and their needs and situations also vary widely. For the sake of clarity and in order to respect everyone´s role it is convenient to consider five layers or levels. Such a classification should be taken flexibly: the same person or group may play simultaneously two or more roles.

The five categories are:

1. The authors of evaluation guides

They are in charge of designing specific guides adapted to specific needs and situations. Such guides are then suggested to the evaluators, and sometimes imposed upon them by the sponsors. Such authors are thus the prime targets and users of the present Guidelines.

2. The evaluators

People who are commissioned to perform one or more evaluations, viz. the actual practitioners of evaluating development research.

In some cases these first two levels are not totally distinct: the evaluators may sometimes build themselves their own evaluation tools and procedures. In that case they play at once the role of authors (level 1) and of practitioners (level 2).

Or they can be people who already conduct evaluation of development research and use a well-established methodology that has proven so far to be useful, but which they may want to question and/or improve. The present guidelines can then be used as a checklist for amending the local tools and procedures.

In that sense the evaluators can be considered as the secondary target of the present guidelines.

3. The users of the results of evaluation

Examples are:

  • Universities and research institutions conducting research, delivering degrees, appointing or promoting researchers, etc.
  • Organisations and foundations providing funding for research (Examples: CIUF/CUD; VLIR/UOS; FNRS; FWO-Vl; International Foundation for Science; CEMUBAC; Nutrition Third World; European Science Foundation etc...)
  • Editors and reviewers of scientific journals concerned with development
  • Juries of prizes and awards (examples: The Royal Academy for Oversea Sciences Prizes; the Belgian Development Cooperation Prize; the King Baudouin Foundation Prize etc...)
  • Potential users of the results (examples: governments, NGO´s; bilateral and international cooperation agencies etc...)
  • People and institutions in charge of development policies and plans
  • International courses on development
  • Organisations attempting to rank universities, departments, research centres or groups, etc.
  • Public opinion, society at large: for the sake of accountability.

4. The researchers themselves

They are stakeholders in any case, but they can also be actors in the case of a participatory evaluation.

5. The people in the developing world

The ultimate stakeholders are all the people who live in the developing world and who may one day profit from the results of scientific research. Better evaluation is supposed to lead to better research, and therefore eventually to better results.