Evaluators for a complex networked research programme?
IKM Emergent Evaluation: Initial terms of reference
’Information and Knowledge Management and development: emergent issues’ programme is a five year research programme which started this April. It is an ambitious programme intent not simply at producing or bringing together high quality intellectual content but also in mobilising people and organisations to act on the issues it raises. It aims to promote this process through the elaboration of issues and the illustration of possible ways of approaching them rather than claiming to offer solutions directly. The operation and development of the programme is structured on the existing interests, skills and of a network of people with a shared commitment to its agenda. As such it offers an alternative model for the management and dissemination of research to that based on institutional interests.
The goal of the programme as stated in its funding application is
‘To improve development practice by promoting change in the way development sector actors approach the selection, management and use of knowledge in the formation and implementation of their policies and programmes’
This goal is based on two main purposes
‘To create an environment for innovation and change in the approach of the sector to its sourcing, management and use of knowledge’
‘To promote an understanding of the importance of multiple perspectives and interpretations of knowledge to effective development work’
The Evaluation Process
It is intended to appoint an evaluator or an evaluation team in the first year of the programme in order
to discuss in detail the most appropriate evaluation methodologies
to allow the evaluator(s) to discuss systems for monitoring and recording the programme appropriate to these methodologies with programme participants and managers at an early stage
to allow the evaluator(s) to get some impression of the programme and its participants at some point close to its start.
The evaluators will then keep in whatever touch with the programme deemed necessary by the chosen methodology before seeking to produce a completed evaluation at the end of year four (2010). A significant budget has been allocated for this work.
These initial terms of reference are designed to attract brief expressions of interest from those interested in this opportunity along with information about their experience of this type of evaluation, some indication of methodologies which might be applied and perhaps some rough estimate of likely cost. Expressions of interest are welcome from individuals or teams. The programme steering group will then select a maximum of three interested parties and invite them to submit detailed applications for the role, paying particular attention to the potential evaluators’ choice and experience of the methodologies thought most appropriate to the task in hand. Selection of the final evaluator(s) will be made following discussion of these applications and final TOR will be issued on the basis of the one selected.
Its main purpose will be to help donors, participants and other stakeholders to learn from the experience of the programme. It is highly likely that the final evaluation document will be made public.
It is hoped also that the evaluator(s), by being periodically in contact with the programme will contribute to its development by raising issues as to its progress, upon which participants and managers will be able to reflect and act.
The main questions posed are whether the programme has made significant progress towards achieving its stated goal and purpose and the relevance of its structure and organisation to any success or failure in this regard.
Such questions are likely to be answered - at least in part – through more detailed attention to the following
Who has become involved in the programme – either as participant or user of output and the extent and value of its activities for those who have participated in them (or have wanted to)
The quality, relevance and innovation of its outputs
Its impact on thinking and practice in the development sector
The value and effectiveness of how the programme is structured and managed
The extent it meets the ethical standards it sets
Anyone interested in being considered for this work is asked to provide a brief (2 pages maximum) outline of their possible approach and relevant experience to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 5th if possible, or October 12th at the latest.