What exactly is Research on Evaluation?
The term “research on evaluation” (also called RoE) has been used to encompass a broad range of inquiry methods, both systematic and unsystematic, that examine evaluation theories, methods, and practices (Coryn et al., 2016). With the goal of providing greater clarity and specificity, RoE scholars have begun considering operational definitions of “research on evaluation”.
Chris Coryn and colleagues (2016) for example, define research on evaluation as:
“Any purposeful, systematic, empirical inquiry intended to test existing knowledge, contribute to existing knowledge, or generate new knowledge related to some aspect of evaluation processes or products, or evaluation theories, methods or practices” (Coryn et al., 2016, p.3).
Fierro (working definition) contributes another useful definition that adds the importance of RoE for informing the practice of evaluation:
"A research investigation that generates findings with the intended purpose of creating a stronger evidence base and infrastructure for the applied practice of evaluation" (Fierro, working definition).
While Coryn et al. carefully explore what research on evaluation is about, Fierro expands to include the intentionality and purpose of research on evaluation.
In 2019, the Research on Evaluation TIG held a number of discussions about what RoE means to the group. These two definitions and understandings rose to the top. Our understanding of what research on evaluation is (and isn't) is constantly evolving and we need your voice to help us!