How to systematically design transdisciplinary project evaluation

By Emilia Nagy and Martina Schäfer

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1. Emilia Nagy (biography)
2. Martina Schäfer (biography; photo source: Landtag Brandenburg)

How can the formative, ie. process, evaluation of transdisciplinary research projects best incorporate the likely link between process and outcomes in such research? What are some useful approaches for developing an effective evaluation plan with a lens of impact orientation?

We describe how to systematically formulate criteria and indicators for the evaluation of transdisciplinary projects by combining:

  • impactful research practices (Lux et al., 2019)
  • impact heuristics (Schäfer et al., 2021)
  • theory-of-change method (Belcher et al., 2019).

The combination of these approaches provides a strong foundation for impact orientation in all project phases.

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Combining and adapting frameworks for research implementation

By Kirsty Jones and Sara Bice

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1. Kirsty Jones (biography)
2. Sara Bice (biography)

How can combining frameworks help plan a research implementation process? What specific contributions can different frameworks make?

In our research with industry, we found combining three frameworks to be an effective way to get handles on a complex implementation landscape and to design the necessary steps to systematically work our way through it. The frameworks we found useful were: a logic model, a pathway to impact and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, which we adapted to our context.

We provide four figures to show how we used each framework and briefly describe the benefits we derived from each of them. Although fully understanding the detail in the figures requires familiarity with the specifics of our research, we trust the figures provide insight into how each framework was used.

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Theory of Change in a nutshell

By Heléne Clark

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Heléne Clark (biography)

How can you plan to make change happen or evaluate the effectiveness of actions you took? How can you link desired long-term goals with all the conditions that must be in place? How can you map out a step-by-step pathway that highlights your assumptions and expectations?

Theory of Change (ToC) is a graphic and narrative explanation of how and why a change process is expected to happen in a particular context.

At its heart, Theory of Change spells out initiative or program logic. It defines long-term goals and then maps backward to identify changes thought to be necessary to the goal that need to happen earlier (preconditions).

Theory of Change purports to explain change process in diagrammatically modeling all the causal linkages in an initiative, ie., its shorter-term, intermediate, and longer-term outcomes.

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