The report on the results of the evaluation, be it in the form of an evaluation report or as part of the final project report, may be regarded as the final product of the evaluation. Depending on the purpose of the evaluation, it serves to provide an account and optimise the project as the basis for deciding whether to continue the project, etc. At the same time, the corresponding report is the foundation for further valorisation measures.
In many cases (less extensive self-evaluations in particular), it is sufficient to present the results in the final report. In the case of external evaluations, a separate evaluation report that describes and discusses the methods and results in a detailed manner is the norm.
For external evaluations, before the report on the results of the evaluation is drafted, it is recommended that the results be presented to and discussed with the project leaders and participants. This allows interpretations and other suggestions from various perspectives to be included in the reporting. However, it is not uncommon for the project leader or leaders to improperly influence the results of the evaluation and to demand that critical assessments be given a positive spin or even omitted. Most external evaluation organisations are very familiar with this problem and have found ways to deal with it. It is usually up to those responsible for the evaluation to decide how much feedback can be incorporated and where lines must be drawn.
An evaluation report - or a corresponding section in the final project report - first and foremost describes the subject of the evaluation, states the evaluation questions, presents the evaluation methods, describes the individual results, draws conclusions, answers the evaluation questions and gives recommendations to the responsible individuals. The evaluation report should be structured and written in such a way that someone not involved can understand the process and the results and recommendations seem plausible. At the same time, it is important that the report clearly distinguish between facts and the assessments of the evaluators. Evaluation reports should be written in a motivating manner and should contain constructive criticism in order to inspire the fostering of strengths, the exploitation of potential for improvement and the implementation of recommended actions. Policy-makers are encouraged to write a brief summary of the evaluation results, which can then be translated into other languages if necessary without too much additional cost and effort.
Dissemination of results and recommendations
An increasing number of organisations are publishing evaluation reports in conjunction with an official comment on the results and recommendations. This is their way of showing that they have read the report and are prepared to take the corresponding steps.
The dissemination of evaluation results should not be limited to publishing the report. Aside from the fact that the results are incorporated into the project's management and development of quality, they offer the executing institution key indicators for setting strategic points. Moreover, other people who work in the respective field should also be able to benefit from the results. It is advisable to present the findings at conferences or meetings aimed at sharing experiences, to report them in trade journals and to use the existing communication channels of the organisation or project (Internet, newsletter, etc.) to disseminate them. It is often possible to include the results in the project's products, such as brochures, flyers, etc., or to use interesting results as an opportunity to launch corresponding products (guidelines, film sequences, posters, etc.). If the results are of scientific interest and the evaluation was carried out using high-level investigative methods, they may be considered for publication in a scientific journal.
Critical reflection of the evaluation
Critically reflecting on the evaluation measures, reporting and communication of results represents the actual conclusion of an evaluation. The goal of this reflection is to learn specific lessons from the evaluation. This involves questions such as: Were all of the evaluation questions answered? Where did any problems occur with execution? What would we have to do differently in the next evaluation? The evaluation standards of the national evaluation organisations offer an excellent basis for such reflection.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- You save time by skipping the evaluation report and a big evaluation presentation since you yourself are already familiar with the salient results.
- You believe the results will not interest anybody else.
What you have to gain
- A well communicated evaluation report provides a solid basis for further developing or replicating a project.
- Well processed results and their dissemination benefit the entire field of work - they help to establish a culture of learning and quality.
What you can actually do
- Invite the key project participants to the presentation of evaluation results and give them an opportunity to give their feedback on the interim evaluation results.
- Make a list of people and groups who could be interested in your evaluation results and decide the best method or channels by which to reach them.
Questions for critical reflection
- Have the evaluation results been processed with the target audience in mind?
- Have you defined who could have an interest in the evaluation results and have the corresponding options for dissemination been exploited?