Neutrality-impartiality-independence. At which stage of the evaluation is each concept important?
I believe that if the purpose of evaluation is to generate programme correction, learning and change, there needs to be independence throughout the process.
In addition, data collection requires neutrality and impartiality in order to ensure that all stakeholders are listened to, not just the beneficiaries of an intervention or programme. Not collecting data in a neutral, impartial and fair manner will result in the loss of information that may be essential for the evaluation commissioner. Data analysis and interpretation may be influenced by the personality and the culture of the evaluator. However, data collected in a neutral and fair manner will be unbiased and will help make the necessary corrections and adjustments later on. This allows us to refer to evidence-based decision making.
In summary, the administrative and political independence of the evaluator is crucial throughout the entire process, but to ensure that everyone has been heard, neutrality and impartiality in an evaluation is more important in the data collection and reporting than in the results interpretation.
- What is your opinion/experience on this?
Here are examples of guides that discuss these concepts:
- Marco Segone et al (UNICEF) Bridging the gap The role of monitoring and evaluation in evidence-based policy making
- Hur Hassnain et al. 2021. Evaluation in Contexts of Fragility, Conflict and Violence: Guidance from Global Evaluation Practitioners. Exeter, UK: IDEAS.