Evaluations are often focused on assessing merit, value, outcome or some other feature of a programme, project, policy or some other object. Evaluation research is then more concerned with the particular rather than the general – even more so, when qualitative methods are used. But does this mean that evaluations should not be used to generalise? If it is possible to generalise from evaluations, under what circumstances can this be legitimately achieved? The authors of this article have previously argued for generalising from qualitative research (GQR), and in this article, they extrapolate the discussion to the field of evaluation. First, the article begins with a discussion of the definitions of generalisability in research, recapping briefly on our arguments for GQR. Second, the differentiation between research and evaluation is explored with consideration of what literature there is to justify generalisation from qualitative evaluation (GQE). Third, a typology derived from the literature is developed, to sort 54 evaluation projects. Fourth, material from a suite of evaluation projects is drawn from to demonstrate how the typology of generalisation applies in the context of evaluations conducted in several fields of study. Finally, we suggest a model for GQE.
- evaluation outcomes
- generalising from qualitative evaluation (GQE)
- generalising from qualitative research (GQR)
- model for GQE
- qualitative evaluation