Evaluating research communications
How does research become influential?
IDRC aims to support research that is not just about development, or relevant to development, but that will actually influence development. To do so, that research has to be effectively communicated and reach the right people. The Evaluation Unit has worked on two aspects of evaluating research communications.
Part 1: Data visualization
A first focus has been on the importance of communicating research findings through data visualization. Looking at a sample of IDRC-supported research outputs, we asked:
- How well are we exploiting the potential of visualization to convey research?
- How might we better use visualization in our communications, and support partners to do so?
This evaluation offers practical ways to improve the design of visualizations to be more clear, focused, and compelling.
For more information on the evaluation of data visualization at IDRC, read:
- Data Visualization in Review: Summary Report
- IDRC’s Data Visualization Review by an Infographics Expert
- Redesigned IDRC Visualizations
- 10 Data Visualization Tips (read the Spanish version)
Part 2: Assessing research communications and influence
IDRC programs encourage grantees to do research in ways intended to enhance influence, and develop the capacity of researchers, intermediaries, and users. When programs commission evaluations, they often wish to assess to what degree research was influential, with whom, and with what outcomes. They also wish to understand what helps and hinders the uptake of research. Evaluations that ask these questions are used for both accountability and learning – to assess and account for the results of resources invested; and to learn how to support research to be more influential in the future.
The Evaluation Unit commissioned the design of a framework to capture and probe researchers’ experiences of research communications. The framework provides a consistent way to analyze these experiences for evaluations of individual research programs and across programs.