Bloggers Series: Rick Davies on Rick on the Road

Hi, my name is Rick Davies, I am an independent evaluation consultant, based in Cambridge, UK. I have been working with international development aid programs in Africa and Asia, in various roles since 1980. I run the Rick on the Road blog.

Rad Resource – The Rick on the Road blog started in 2004, and has accumulated about 50 posts, or about 5 a year. It is presented as a separate but linked editorial section of the Monitoring and Evaluation News, website, which I also manage.  My posts can be quite lengthy, going into detail on specific evaluation methodology issues and potentially useful innovations.

Hot Tips – favorite posts:

  • Monday, October 24, 2011 Evaluation quality standards: Theories in need of testing? This post arose out of work I and others were doing for DFID UK on alternative rigorous approaches to establishing causal attribution in impact evaluations. It situated rigor within a wider set of evaluation quality criteria, and suggested their importance was not axiomatic but rather something that needed empirical research. However, there were some meta-quality criteria (i.e. criteria for criteria) like transparency, which were more immediately justifiable and useful.
  • Sunday, September 04, 2011 Relative rather than absolute counterfactuals: A more useful alternative? This post was stimulated by the same consultancy work. It argues that in many development projects there are de facto “relative” counterfactuals available for comparison, in the form of non-functioning and semi-functioning implementations of a given project design, where a project is implemented in multiple locations in parallel, e.g. different districts of a country.
  •  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 Evaluation methods looking for projects or projects seeking appropriate evaluation methods? This post was stimulated by my review of 3ie’s approach to impact evaluation. 3ie type mechanisms appear method driven, which risks excluding many projects that are commonly part of a development agency’s portfolio, but which are not amenable to those methods. The blog then explored an alternative funding mechanism that would help ensure better quality evaluations of entire portfolios of projects.

Lessons Learned – why I blog: This blog provides me with a space for thinking aloud about issues raised by my consultancy work, but which won’t necessarily fit within the required reports. Although I am not looking for new clients, I am publicly exposing my capacity to think in depth and innovative ways about evaluation issues.  The ideas that are discussed are made available as a public good, albeit subject to Creative Commons license conditions. I am antipathetic to the idea of making proprietary claims on ideas.

Lessons Learned: You don’t have to blog every day, or every week, as some people seem to believe. What matters is having something interesting and useful to say.

This winter, we’re running a series highlighting evaluators who blog. 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

1 thought on “Bloggers Series: Rick Davies on Rick on the Road”

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