Impact evaluation

3ie-supported studies meet real-world evidence demands and are therefore useful to decision makers and other users, as well as being high quality. We fund collections of studies in a sector, rather than one-off evaluations, and focus on priority gaps in the evidence base. We require that our evaluation teams include local researchers and provide support for strengthening their capacities. We encourage national principal investigators. 3ie supports a range of impact evaluations, including formative and process evaluations needed to inform the potential for or design of a full impact evaluation, all of which helps ensure that what we fund is relevant and timely.

world bank

What is an impact evaluation?

3ie impact evaluations provide evidence of what works or not, for whom, and why in international development. We require designs based on the intervention’s theory of change that use a counterfactual*.  Methods should ensure that the evaluation addresses differential impacts due to the effects of gendered inequality. We fund preparation phases to ensure that teams engage with key stakeholders in the selection of evaluation questions, design and methods. This phase may include process and formative evaluations. We assure the quality of 3ie-funded studies through a collaborative partnership among our evaluation and evidence use specialists, our grantees, and independent expert reviewers.

*Counterfactual analysis is the comparison between what actually happened and what would have happened in the absence of an intervention.

What we offer

  • Country monitoring and evaluation system capacity development: 3ie recognises that sustainable production and use of quality evaluation evidence depends on governments’ commitment to evaluation, demand for evidence-informed decisions from the public and parliaments, policies and institutions in place, budget, and embedded evaluation training and education that produce and sustain quality evaluators. 3ie works with governments and capacity development partners to play a key coordinating role in building these systems in countries where demand exists. We currently have successful country programmes in the Philippines and Uganda, and we are working with capacity development partners in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
  • Funding evidence programmes: We have a unique and effective approach to developing our impact evaluation evidence programmes. 3ie focuses on filling evidence gaps that address priority sectors or country priorities and users’ needs. Programmes have impact evaluation evidence production at their core, and they include evidence mapping, consultations with a range of key actors to identify evidence priorities, evidence synthesis, implementation learning and support for promoting evidence use.
  • Impact evaluation services: In addition to more comprehensive evidence programmes, 3ie is able to respond to partners who want us to produce or manage a given evidence product or service, such as evidence gap maps, assuring the quality of evaluation design and team selection, and/or managing impact evaluation implementation.
  • Assuring quality: 3ie’s mission is to fund and support high-quality evidence production. To achieve this aim, 3ie provides a unique and effective approach to managing the study development and implementation cycle. We use a team approach, in which evaluation and evidence use specialists and project managers work together to provide timely and expert support and guidance from the start through the completion of any programme, service or grant. This approach is adaptive and tailored as needed to ensure quality; timely implementation; and engagement, and to promote understanding and use of the evidence generated.
  • Accessible reports and datasets: We publish the final reports of 3ie-supported studies. We also produce briefs to summarise main findings to make this evidence available to decision makers, as well as summaries of implementation lesson learning. All data associated with 3ie-funded studies are publically available.
  • Impact evaluation repository: 3ie maintains the world’s largest index of rigorous studies of development policies and programmes. Users can search nearly 4,700 summaries of both 3ie-funded and other qualifying evaluations. It is an essential resource for researchers looking to synthesise high-quality effectiveness evidence or see where there are evidence gaps, as well as decision makers and donors who need to prioritise evidence and evaluation investments. Click here to visit the repository.
  • Replication programme: 3ie is a leader in promoting the replication of influential, innovative or controversial impact evaluations as part of our commitment to quality evaluation. We fund researchers to replicate data used from these studies and report their analysis and findings publicly. We seek and publish responses from the original authors.

3ie impact evaluation glossary

3ie is in the process of completely updating our glossary, which will we launch in English, Spanish and French in 2019 and Chinese and Arabic as possible.