The Science of Evaluation
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The Science of Evaluation
A Realist Manifesto



© 2013 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Evaluation researchers are tasked with providing the evidence to guide programme building and to assess its outcomes. As such, they labour under the highest expectations - bringing independence and objectivity to policy making. They face huge challenges, given the complexity of modern interventions and the politicised backdrop to all of their investigations. They have responded with a huge portfolio of research techniques and, through their professional associations, have set up schemes to establish standards for evaluative inquiry and to accredit evaluation practitioners. A big question remains. Has this monumental effort produced a progressive, cumulative and authoritative body of knowledge that we might think of as evaluation science? This is the question addressed by Ray Pawson in this sequel to Realistic Evaluation and Evidence-based Policy. In answer, he provides a detailed blueprint for an evaluation science based on realist principles.
Preface: The Armchair Methodologist and the Jobbing Researcher  
 
PART ONE: PRECURSORS AND PRINCIPLES
 
Precursors: From the Library of Ray Pawson
 
First Principles: A Realist Diagnostic Workshop
 
PART TWO: THE CHALLENGE OF COMPLEXITY - DROWNING OR WAVING?
 
A Complexity Checklist
 
Contested Complexity
 
Informed Guesswork: The Realist Response to Complexity
 
PART THREE: TOWARDS EVALUATION SCIENCE
 
Invisible Mechanisms I: The Long Road to Behavioural Change
 
Invisible Mechanisms II: Clinical Interventions as Social Interventions
 
Synthesis as Science: The Bumpy Road to Legislative Change
 
Conclusion: A Mutually Monitoring, Disputatious Community of Truth Seekers

Pawson calls for an endless journey into evaluation, organised with interventiontheories as the unit of analysis, so as to generate a phalanx of middle-range researchprogrammes. His second suggestion is for maintaining an ever-shifting and improvingmiddle ground that can only be achieved collectively and through constant criticalscrutiny of each other’s work. Thus his hope is that ideas and problems raised inthis book will stimulate and encourage more research about the scientific status ofevaluation.

Mae Keary, Scott-Keary Consultants
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ISBN: 9781446252437
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