Evaluability assessment (EA) is a systematic approach to planning evaluation projects. It involves researchers working with stakeholders to clarify intervention goals and how they are expected to be achieved, the development and evaluation of a theory of change, and provision of advice on whether an evaluation can be carried out at reasonable cost, or if further development work on the intervention is necessary.
EA can improve decision-making by sharpening the focus of interventions that are put forward as candidates for evaluation, and establishing the likelihood of measurable impact, before resources are committed to a full scale evaluation. It can forestall commitments to evaluate programmes where further development is required, or where there is little realistic expectation of benefit, and make the evaluations that are undertaken more useful. It also provides a basis for constructive engagement with stakeholders, whether or not an evaluation is undertaken. This should encourage the translation of research findings by ensuring that policy-makers and practitioners are involved from the beginning in developing and appraising evaluation options.
We have worked with colleagues in What Works Scotland, NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy to carry out evaluability assessments for the Scottish Government, NHS organisations and local authorities in Scotland, and to encourage others to apply the approach via seminars, workshops and other training events.
We are now developing guidance to help stakeholders like funders, policymakers and practitioners, and researchers to use EA to make decisions about their programs.
The guidance will collate the experiences from professionals across the UK with experience in EAs, and provide a practical resource covering aspects of EA such as: what is (and is not) an EA, the ideal time for doing an EA, processes of an EA, and pitfalls to look out for when doing an EA.
Nick Watson, What Works Scotland, University of Glasgow
Richard Brunner, What Works Scotland, University of Glasgow
Diane Stockton, NHS Health Scotland
Fiona Myers, NHS Health Scotland
Justine Geyer, Scottish Government
Ruth Jepson, Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, University of Edinburgh
Larry Doi, Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, University of Edinburgh