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



David Hawkins on The Research Methods Knowledge Base

Salutations aea365ers. I am David Hawkins, closet dummy. I have read Wine for Dummies so that I can order wine in a restaurant without getting fleeced. I bought Birds for Dummies when my daughter wanted a parakeet. Costa Rica for Dummies is helping me to plan an upcoming vacation. But as far as I know, there isn’t a Research Methods for Dummies. Sometimes I pull out an old textbook, but they tend to have more information than I want and are not at hand when I need them, while on the job or when I am ‘relaxing’ and doing a bit of background research on my laptop in the hammock.

The Research Methods Knowledge Base to the rescue!

Rad Resource – Research Methods [online] Knowledge Base: This is an online textbook written by former AEA President William Trochim. It covers all of the basics from the philosophy and ethics of research to sampling, measurement, design, analysis, and writing-up your research report. It does not go in great depth into any one topic, or particularly ‘out of the box’, but rather gives a solid introduction at a level understandable to most readers. I’ve recently referred to it for a refresher on sampling, and as a starting point to understanding scaling better – the scaling section is one of the strongest.

Hot Tip – Section on Evaluation Research: This section of the knowledge base provides a good introduction to the field, including an overview of types of evaluation and evaluation questions and methods. While I have these basics down, it is useful to refer others to this piece to help them understand the field. The evaluation phase/planning phase cycle illustrated here has proven useful in conveying to others the cyclical nature of evaluation, emphasizing that it should not be a one-time event, but rather a component embedded with larger program processes.

I’ve found this free resource to be incredibly useful and thought I’d share it with the world.

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 comment

  • Debbie Smith · September 27, 2012 at 7:20 am

    This is my favorite (though it was hard to choose) because I have shared it so often with students and even colleagues who don’t quite “get it” and just need a little reminder/refresher. Thanks, David, for sharing these rad resources with all the rest of us “dummies!”


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