Qualitative impact evaluation: incorporating authenticity into the assessment of rigour

Susan Johnson, Saltanat Rasulova

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper

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Recent developments in impact evaluation recognise the need to go beyond the intense debate over experimental techniques to incorporate theory-based approaches and qualitative research methods. Motivated by an underlying concern that qualitative research in this new wave of qualitative impact evaluation research is appropriately conducted, this paper reviews practical strategies to address rigour deploying Guba and Lincoln’s principles of “trustworthiness” to do so. In particular we focus on the less discussed principle of ‘authenticity’ which responds to the demand for research orientations to be more transformative and emancipatory. In development impact evaluation, recent discussion has highlighted the frequent deficit of a transformative orientation and the problematic wider organisational contexts of aid relationships in which commissioned evaluations are conducted. We argue that embracing the authenticity principle offers commissioned researchers with a progressive orientation a rationale for making space for stakeholder interaction and negotiation within the rigour discourse. This in turn creates the scope to incorporate it into checklists of rigour so using the ‘artefacts’ of evaluation as a means to call commissioning organisations and other stakeholders to be more responsive to concerns for authenticity.

Key words:
qualitative research, rigour, trustworthiness, impact evaluation, evidence-based policy
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCentre for Development Studies, University of Bath
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Publication series

NameBath Papers in International Development and Wellbeing


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