The state-of-the-ART Project (Update 1)

By James Copestake

“I never publish anything that hasn’t been through five drafts” is what the celebrated economist Kenneth Galbraith reportedly said when asked the secret of his ability to write so well. Well, I confess this blog doesn’t meet his standard, but I can report that a sixth draft of the Qualitative Impact Protocol (QUIP) for Assessing Rural Transformations can now be downloaded from the ART Project Website. An earlier version was closely scrutinised at a two day workshop in the Self Help Africa office in Shrewsbury in May by participants from SHA, Farm Africa, Evidence for Development, Oxfam, Irish Aid and the University of Malawi. However, the real proof of the pudding is yet to come, with a first round of pilot testing due to take place in Malawi and Ethiopia between now and early 2014.

Meanwhile, it has been interesting and helpful to discuss the niceties of attribution, causality, context and complexity at various other fora. Three stand out:

With the Big Push Forward Conference also having taken place in June there is certainly plenty of effort going into developing new ways of assessing what sorts of development activity work, why and how. This prompts two further thoughts for this blog.

First, I think it may be useful to think further about confirmatory and exploratory aspects of impact assessment. Confirmatory approaches suit activities with a more robust theory of change: i.e. where the main impact pathways can be predicted and measured with more confidence. In contrast, exploratory impact assessment or research is more open-ended, inductive and open to the unexpected. In drafting the QUIP we have also paid particular attention to how more exploratory approaches may be less prone to pro-project bias, by keeping researchers and respondents as blind as possible to prior goals and expectations of the activity being assessed.

Second, for all the strength to be gained from a plurality of approaches to meet diverse needs and contexts, we do also need to guard against excessive duplication, reinvention and proliferation of methods and tools. Hence this update; both to keep you informed about what the ART Project is up to, and to invite comments and indeed collaboration. Is there a case for an action research network on exploratory approaches to assessing impact in development, for example? Comments welcome below!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The state-of-the-ART Project (Update 1)

  1. Pingback: Chapter 2…in which kirstyevidence meets a randomista! | kirstyevidence

  2. Pingback: The state-of-the ART Project – Update 2 | DevLog@Bath

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s