To understand the concept of Program Evaluation, it is essential to know its difference with Research, as most often these two concepts are confused between each other. A common question that is raised – is research and evaluation same or different? Unfortunately, there is a no easy answer for this. There has been alternative theorisation among experts in establishing the distinction between research and evaluation. There are various schools of thought or typologies that exist which view research and evaluation from different lenses. The four different typologies are as follows –
Evaluation as a sub-section of research
This school of thought is premised on the notion that – Doing research does not necessarily require doing evaluation. However, doing evaluation always requires doing research.
Research as a sub-section of Evaluation
The second school of thought on the distinction between research and evaluation is that research is only a sub-section of evaluation. According to this notion, the research part of evaluation involves only collecting and analysing empirical data.
Research and Evaluation not mutually exclusive
The third school of thought views research and evaluation as two unrelated variables that are not mutually exclusive. An activity can be both research and evaluation – or neither. Research is about being empirical. Evaluation is about drawing evaluative conclusions about quality, merit or worth.
Research and evaluation are dichotomous
Another school of thought considers research and evaluation as two completely separate stream of producing knowledge. Evaluation is viewed as more interested in specific, applied knowledge, and more controlled by those funding or commissioning the evaluation. Research on the other hand, is considered as interested in producing generalisable knowledge which are theoretical and controlled by the researchers.