AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

May/16

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Lauren Baba and Carol Cahill on Evaluation writing for community partners and other audiences – Part 1

We are Lauren Baba and Carol Cahill with the Center for Community Health and Evaluation (CCHE), part of Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) in Seattle. Our team of consultants works with a various stakeholders to evaluate community health initiatives, clinic-community linkages, and health improvement coalitions. We are always brainstorming new ways to make evaluation reports creative, accessible, and interesting for community partners. Drawing on the team’s 20 years of experience, we have developed reporting recommendations to help evaluators write appropriately for different target audiences and clients.

Hot Tip: Synthesize, don’t just summarize. Clients and community partners are looking for your insights into what evaluation findings mean for their work and communities. Refer to Michael Quinn Patton’s AEA365 tips to help focus your synthesis. Then, captivate audiences early; do not wait to answer the “So what?” question at the end of your report. See CCHE’s executive summary for the Sierra Health Foundation as an example.

Hot Tip: Short reports can pack a bigger punch. Right-size the length and level of detail you share with different audiences. If you write a full-length report, consider pulling together tailored briefs for each target audience’s interests, similar to CCHE’s issue briefs for the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health.

Hot Tip: Break the mold and write reports that do not follow the usual order of contents or formatting. Be responsive to your client’s expectations for the report, but try to open their eyes to alternatives:

  • Respect your readers’ time and begin with your key takeaway message, then provide the supporting information.
  • Move methodology sections to the end of your report. Or instead include them in a technical appendix with more detailed discussion and data tables for interested readers.

Rad Resource: Check the reading level of your reports and use plain language guides like GHRI’s Program for Readability In Science & Medicine (PRISM) resources to help you write using language that your audiences will understand.

*Look for Part 2 of our article tomorrow!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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