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Quantitative and qualitative methods in impact evaluation and measuring results
Sabine Garbarino & Jeremy Holland
Source of the information:
Emerging Issues Research Service of the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre
This paper reviews the case for promoting and formalising qualitative and combined methods for impact evaluation as part of a broader strategy amongst donors and country partners for tackling the evaluation gap. The paper thus contributes to the ongoing debate on ‘more and better’ impact evaluations by highlighting experience on combining qualitative and quantitative methods with the objective of measuring the different impact of donor interventions on different groups of people and the different dimensions of poverty, particularly those that are not readily quantified but which poor people themselves identify as important, such as dignity, respect, security and power.
A third framing question is the use of the research process itself as a way of increasing accountability and empowerment of the poor.
The paper does not provide a detailed account of different approaches to impact evaluation or an overview of proposed solutions to specific impact evaluation challenges. Instead it defines and reviews the case for combining qualitative and quantitative approaches to impact evaluation.
An important principle that emerges in this discussion is that of equity, or ‘equality of difference’. By promoting various forms of mixing, the paper seeks to move methodological discussion away from a norm in development research in which qualitative research plays ‘second fiddle’ to conventional empiricist investigation.
This means, for example, that contextual studies should not be used simply to confirm or ‘window dress’ the findings of non-contextual surveys. Instead they should play a more rigorous role of observing and evaluating impacts, even replacing, when appropriate, large-scale and lengthy surveys that can ‘over-generate’ information in an untimely fashion for policy audiences.