Evaluation uses quantitative and qualitative research methods to determine the worth or impact of a policy or programme. It provides evidence upon which decisions about improvements to the policy or programme can be based.
At the Royal Society of New Zealand we regard evaluation as an important basis for policy, as a means to assess our impact on New Zealand, and as a way to determine how our services could be improved. We currently evaluate and/or have plans to evaluate:
- the research we fund
- our publishing activities
- our education programmes
- our public awareness programmes.
Evaluation results are reported to government and to other interested parties.
The purpose of evaluation is to look at the impact of a scheme as a whole; it is not to monitor progress on individual grants. For example, in evaluation of the Marsden Fund we ask, “what overall impact has Marsden-funded research had on New Zealand and globally?” By contrast, in the monitoring of Marsden research we ask “is this Marsden-funded project meeting its requirements as set out in the project’s contract?”
Although some information collected as a part of monitoring procedures may also feed into evaluation in an aggregated form, the converse is not true: information collected specifically for the purpose of evaluation is not used in the monitoring of individual grants.