The UK Evaluation Society has generated these guidelines to help commissioners, practitioners and participants establish good practice in the conduct of evaluation. The guidelines attempt to capture, in an easily assimilated way, a diverse set of principles for action in evaluation. They are intended for use in any domain, discipline or context. Organised in different sections, the guidelines outline issues for consideration by a range of stakeholders involved in the evaluation process. In this way practice is encapsulated from the point of view of evaluators themselves, commissioners, participants and those involved in self-evaluation in organisations.
Writing guidelines to inform practice has real challenges in that it is easy to slide into a set of disembodied, somewhat rationalistic standards, which bear little resemblance to the ebb and flow of interactions as the social process of evaluation unfolds. Yet it is difficult to adopt a conversational tone that at the same time allows for quick reference and easy access.
These guidelines are written in a matter-of-fact style that eschews jargon, the obscure and the insular. They are intended for use by the novice and the experienced alike. While they may be a little truncated, each statement is designed to offer a starting point for deliberation and to act as a reference for statements of evaluation ethics, intentions and generic practice. In this sense they are educational, generated to establish a dialogue between the different groups on what constitutes good practice.
The guidelines provide frameworks for action that do not exemplify any particular evaluation approach. Many of the statements have at their heart the need to be open and transparent about the expectations and requirements of all the stakeholders whoever they may be. As such the language used strives to avoid hidden assumptions about the efficacy, dominance or normality of any single approach to evaluation. The guidelines are grounded in practice, i.e., what those engaged in the practical business of evaluation, have found to be both honourable and effective ways of interacting. We believe they will come alive through use in discussions between people involved in evaluations and they will support ways of negotiating some of the critical aspects of the process from commissioning to dissemination of findings.
The guidelines are not definitive and will continuously evolve; they should therefore be received as work-in-progress.