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The Evaluation Center at WMU Week: Scholarship Can Support Evaluation Success by Brad Watts

Greetings! I’m Brad Watts, the Assistant Director of The Evaluation Center at Western Michigan University. During my eight-plus years in this role, I’ve had time to observe many of the unique ways our center has worked to be successful and survive for over 50(!) years.

One way for a university-based evaluation center such as ours to demonstrate its value is through scholarship. By publishing articles, book chapters, and books; presenting at conferences; and engaging in scholarly service, we add value to our fee-based work. Scholarship contributes to the success of The Evaluation Center by keeping us engaged with the field and elevating the center’s reputation.

As a practicing evaluator, you might think, “How can I engage in scholarship? My clients want an evaluation of their program. They aren’t going to pay for me to write an academic article or attend a conference just on evaluation!” These are valid concerns, but it is important to remember there are many ways to engage in scholarship. Here are a few ways staff at The Evaluation Center have stayed engaged in scholarship over the past 50 years (even when we aren’t researching or publishing).

Hot Tips

  1. Volunteer as a peer reviewer or editor for an evaluation journal. You don’t need to be a professor to serve; evaluation journals often need people with experience in the field.
  2. Present your evaluation findings at a non-evaluation conference. Practitioners in other fields are often interested in the findings from evaluations, and it can also be a great opportunity to collaborate with your clients to boost their scholarship. Staff at The Evaluation Center have presented at conferences held by organizations such as the American Educational Research Association, the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.
  3. Keep up on the latest research on evaluation. Even if you don’t have the time or money to conduct your own scholarship right now, there’s no reason not to keep up with the work of other scholars. If you are a member of AEA, you also have FREE access to their publications, the American Journal of Evaluation and New Directions in Evaluation

Rad Resource

One way The Evaluation Center promotes scholarship is by housing and supporting the Journal of Multidisciplinary Evaluation. This peer-reviewed scholarly journal offers open online access to all articles. They are always seeking new authors and currently have an open call for associate and section editors.

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