Assessing contrasting strategies for ensuring ethical practice within evaluation: institutional review boards and professionalisation

Peter O’Flynn (Lead Author), Chris Barnett, Laura Camfield

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2 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores the application of ethics in two contrasting approaches to evaluation: one that views evaluation as essentially a research project, and the other that sees evaluation as an extension of project management. We argue that the growth in so-called rigorous impact evaluation, characterised by practitioners as evaluation using experimental or quasi-experimental methods, has seen evaluation treated increasingly as a subset of research. This has entailed greater use of ethical committees, and specifically institutional review boards (IRBs), as many academics promoting the use of experimental methods are based in the USA. Elsewhere, evaluation is treated more as a management activity, with professionalisation initiatives such as membership standards and ethical guidance often used in the place of formal review. In this paper, we question whether the simultaneous growth in usage of IRBs and professionalisation addresses the ethical issues faced by evaluators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-568
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Development Effectiveness
Issue number4
Early online date27 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • IRBs
  • professionalization
  • evaluation
  • ethics
  • public-sector management
  • participatory evaluation

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