Synthesising diverse evidence of impact

Development is moving inexorably towards a data rich environment, where for example remote sensing and data from mobile phones need to be incorporated and understood alongside more traditional sources of data. Plus, as we broaden and deepen the range of impact evaluation methodologies (theme 1), new challenges arise about how to draw conclusions from more diverse forms of evidence. Proponents of classic synthesis approaches (such as the Campbell/Cochrane systematic reviews) utilise a more limited subset of methods. And, while there are alternatives to conventional evidence synthesis (such as by drawing on realist approaches, consensus forecasting, and causal Bayes Nets), these have so far been underutilised in how they can and should inform decision-making.

The focus of CDI’s work is on:

  • Exploring less well known ways to synthesize and weigh up diverse forms of evidence
  • Developing approaches to make better use of ‘big data’ to assess impact
  • Learning about how evidence of impact informs decision-making and knowledge

Latest publications

This report explains the methodology used to analyse the demand for evidence and accountability within the impact investment market.

November 2016

Impact investing – investing for social and environmental returns alongside financial returns – is a growing phenomenon in financial markets. However, concerns exist regarding the demand for robust impact evidence and accountability for impact claims when compared to a public sector aid model.

October 2016

Latest blog posts

CDI started the new year with a bang, launching our inaugural ‘Designing effective ways to evaluate impact’ short course at IDS, led by CDI director Chris Barnett and IDS visiting fellow Rob D. van den Berg.
February 2017

The term 'evaluability assessment (EA)' is hardly one to start the mind racing and the heart beating. And if 'institutionalising within monitoring and evaluation frameworks’ is added, readers’ eyes probably glaze over very quickly.  This all sounds like yet more jargon brewed up by the evaluation profession. But the newly published CDI Practice Paper entitled ‘Building Evaluability Assessments into Institutional Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Frameworks’ fits in nicely with the developing work on assessing ‘complexity in practice’.

March 2016

In this third part of our blog series on ‘hot debates in impact evaluation’, we set out a number of areas in which we have ambitions to further our work at the Centre for Development Impact (CDI). These are areas that chime with broader debates, but we have yet to do significant research on. Here goes…

September 2015

Latest news

The Training Office at the School of International Development at UEA recently held a course on Impact Evaluation for Evidence-Based Policy in Development.
May 2017
Last month, CDI’s Director, Chris Barnett, was at the International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS) Global Assembly, which was held concurrently with the UNDP’s conference on National Evaluation Capacities (NEC). On the agenda was a session on the New Frontiers for Evaluation, a subject CDI has been leading on for most of 2015. IDEAS President, Rob D. van den Berg, in his opening address, emphasised the need for evaluation to look to the future, to not just work in the ‘here and now’, but also in the ‘there and then’.
November 2015