6 Evaluation Methods for Producing Actionable Evidence: Contextual Influences on Adequacy and Appropriateness of Method Choice

Philosophers have long struggled with what it means for evidence to be credible (Weinberg, 1973). For this volume, the focus is on understanding what constitutes credible evidence for informing policy and program decisions, especially in the public sector. Our pragmatic approach extends the concept to suggest that for evidence to be useful, it not only needs to be credible but “actionable” as well, deemed both adequate and appropriate for guiding actions in targeted real-world contexts (Julnes & Rog, 2007). Certainly credibility helps evidence to be actionable, but the level of credibility necessary or useful to guide action depends on the situation. Further, evidence can be credible in the context studied but of questionable relevance for guiding actions in other contexts (Argyris, 1996). Many factors influence whether a given set of evidence is judged as actionable for a particular purpose and in a specific context. Our interest in this chapter is ...

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