All CDI blog posts are written by members of the CDI team or those working on projects in connection with CDI who can offer a personal analysis of development impact research and practice. The views expressed in these blogs may not represent those of CDI. Please do join the debate by 'commenting' on our blogs. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #cdimpact and #impact eval. 

Blog Posts

Lewis Husain, Gerry Bloom

Some years ago, Tony Saich likened doing research on local government in China to the story of the blind men and the elephant – the complexity of China, and the differences between places, mean that different people experience different things, and describe different realities.

December 2018
Chris Barnett

The latest IDS Bulletin ‘The Millennium Villages: Lessons on Evaluating Integrated Rural Development‘ brings together a series of reflections on integrated development and how best to know whether it works and why. It certainly doesn’t provide all the answers; rather it’s meant to stimulate debate. Some things you might agree with, others you might not. Hopefully, it is at least thought-provoking.

December 2018
Melanie Punton

At Itad, we see choosing an evaluation approach as an art as much as a science: there’s always a lot to consider. As a result, our evaluation designs are often hybrids, drawing on a range of different approaches in order to tick all the boxes.

October 2018
Melanie Punton

We like a challenge at Itad, and so four or five years ago we threw our hats into the realist evaluation ring. At that time, there was growing interest in the international development sector about the potential of realist approaches to answer tricky questions about how and why our programmes work or don’t work.

October 2018
Peter O'Flynn
In my last blog, I provided an update on how investors and companies monitor the performance of smallholders in supply chains. In this one, I ask – what are the barriers and incentives for collecting more relevant data on smallholders who work with agribusinesses?
September 2018
Jeremy Holland

I once edited a book on combining methods and data to get the best of all worlds in applied research. In the book, David Booth wrote a chapter entitled ‘strong fences make good neighbours’ which advocated for a clear demarcation between ‘acontextual’ survey-based data collection and ‘contextual’ in-depth interpretive research. Weakening that fence was asking for trouble, he argued. I saw his point then and still see it now. It centres on sacrificing explanatory depth in a quest for external validity.

August 2018
Giel Ton
My work with CDI is to help the evaluation of development impact. This implies research to detect outcomes that change in response to a project or a programme, and explore the conditions that contributed to the realisation of these effects. However, these projects and programmes are always context-dependent. Each impact study, or for this blog post, ‘effectiveness’ study, has specific characteristics that make their impact ‘unique’, which limits the usefulness of their findings to the outside world – the so-called ‘external validity’.
February 2018
Peter O'Flynn

The purpose of our research into smallholder supply chains is to increase the evidence base on the information collected and used by companies and investors who invest in them. We define smallholders as small-scale farmers, pastoralists, forest keepers and fishers who manage and operate areas between one and ten hectares (FAO, 2013). In November 2017, I worked with firms in both Malawi and Kenya (while a colleague did the same in Ethiopia) to find out: 

December 2017
Giel Ton
In July 2017, I joined IDS as the new director of the Centre for Development Impact. I look forward to developing CDI further as a platform and safe-space for innovation in impact evaluation.
October 2017
Chris Barnett

It is exciting times for CDI as I hand over the Directorship to Dr Giel Ton, Fellow at IDS, and Deputy Director, Dr Rachel Eager at Itad (find out what Giel is looking forward to working on as the new Director). The past few years have seen CDI spearhead some fascinating debates and I am sure it will go on from strength to strength. It is very hard to choose just three personal highlights, but here goes...!

October 2017