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LAWG Week: Matthew Von Hendy on How Evaluators Find and Use Research

Hello! My name is Matthew Von Hendy, I am a professional research librarian and recently started my own business, Green Heron Information Services, a small research consulting company that provides information services to evaluators and other clients.

For the past three months, I have been conducting informational interviews with professional evaluators to understand how they find and use information and research. Over the course of that time, I have spoken to a dozen evaluators working in all types of settings including government agencies, academic institutions, non-profit organizations as well as independent consultants.

Every evaluator I spoke with was highly-motivated to conduct their own research. Research resources used most often included: Google, professional association websites, peer to peer conversations, other search engines, self-created collections of articles and documents, local public/university libraries and databases.

duckHot Tip: Check your Google results. If you use Google frequently, it will filter your results based on your previous searches, meaning you may not be seeing important resources. Other search engines such as Duck Duck Go or Blekko can provide a way to make sure you are not missing something crucial.

Hot Tip: Three resources for finding free full text. Besides Google Scholar, other search tools such as Scirus and Mendley can be useful tools to locate free full text. They will frequently find PDFs that Google Scholar does not.

Evaluators all expressed concerns about limited budgets but indicated a willingness to pay for research or information in specific instances such as: big projects with tight deadlines which involved searching, literature reviews or writing annotated bibliographies, research projects on a small scale, research projects that arise on a case by case basis, professional development, and benchmarking processes.

I look forward to meeting everyone at the upcoming AEA conference this October. I have grown to really like Washington DC and love to show the area off to visitors. As a member of the Washington Evaluators and the Local Arrangements Working Group I hope to get the chance to meet you all in person this fall.

Hot Tip About DC: Many people are surprised to find out that DC is a good place for biking and hiking.  The Capital Bikeshare program make it easy, inexpensive and convenient to get around on two wheels even if you are just visiting for a couple of days. The National Zoo, the National Mall and Rock Creek Trail are relatively close by the conference and can be great places to take a walk or a hike.

We’re thinking forward to October and the Evaluation 2013 annual conference all this week with our colleagues in the Local Arrangements Working Group (LAWG). Registration is now open! 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 contribute to aea365? Review the contribution guidelines and send your draft post to aea365@eval.org.


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