Research evaluation: From power to empowerment


This article explores issues in the evaluation of research through an examination of the situation in the field of international development. It is increasingly recognized that traditional evaluation, which served largely a policing function, is not useful in assessing the impact of the development research process. It is argued that the role and perception of evaluation must change if it is to provide a reflection of the learning which takes place in research. The field of international development research provides a rich ground in which to explore the argument. The field is subject to the difficulties of evaluating research and to the difficulties of evaluating development—in both cases, we are dealing with long time frames and the influence of many factors other than the activity itself. If evaluation is to serve a learning function, then the shift must be to a purpose ofempowerment. This article explores the changes which are implicit in such a shift through an examination of three key areas: changing perspectives on evaluation; changing patterns in development; and changing patterns in research for development.

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Prior to joining IDRC in 1993 he was Senior Research Associate with the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University (Canada) where he was involved in research projects in environmental planning and management in Canada, Tanzania and Indonesia. He holds a Ph.D. from the Université de Montréal (faculté de l’Aménagement).

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Carden, F. Research evaluation: From power to empowerment. Knowledge and Policy 10, 67–76 (1998).

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  • International Development
  • Learning Tool
  • Performance Measurement System
  • Draft Report
  • Traditional Evaluation