10 Great Books in Monitoring and Evaluation

In the vast field of monitoring and evaluation, books serve as indispensable resources, providing valuable insights and guidance for professionals seeking to enhance their knowledge. From comprehensive methodologies to practical case studies, this article presents 10 great books that offer a wealth of expertise and perspectives, empowering individuals and organizations to excel in monitoring and evaluation practices.

Development Evaluation: Applying Complexity Concepts to Enhance Innovation and Use: Michael Quinn Patton

By far one of the most useful books for M&E practitioners, Quinn Patton’s guide to Developmental Evaluation is sure to provide the context you require when you’re evaluating complex projects. Developmental Evaluation takes a new, and more realistic approach to M&E, and this book, as a reference, provides a lot of the precedent you might require as justification of realistic approaches – more relevant on the ground.

Social Work Science: Prof Ian Shaw

If you are working on development projects, it is important to gain a full understanding of the mechanisms of social science, and how we have come to analyse social systems. When evaluating programmes, understanding how observed phenomena can be contextualised and organised is really what makes a good M&E practitioner. Ian Shaw has authored a number of books on the subject matter, including ‘Doing qualitative Evaluation in Social Work’, ‘Evaluating in Practice’, and ‘Social Work and ICT’, all excellent resources is you’re setting out to evaluate projects involving people, and their internal development.

Developing Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks: Annie Markiewicz and Ian Patrick

If you’re looking for a guide to take you through the logic of the process of M&E, from conceptualising the project into logical frameworks, through to implementation, then this is an excellent resource. Based on their extensive experience, the authors provide an excellent guide to logic and methodology behind good M&E practice.

Implementation Monitoring and Process Evaluation: Ruth P Saunders

Process evaluation in an important part of M&E, particularly for participatory M&E practice, but really in any programme where monitoring of implementation is significant. Particularly in health and education programmes, monitoring for quality is an important part of making any evaluative conclusions. This is a must read for anyone working at scale, on projects in public policy, or looking to confirm the required organization design for scale.

Being an Evaluator – Your practical guide to evaluation: Donna R. Podems

This is a really accessible read for anyone seeking mentorship on their journey to becoming an M&E specialist. This in an important read if you’re looking at taking your practice to the next level, to become more culturally sensitive, and more reflective in the way you look at implementation through the lens of an evaluator. This book explores the similarities and differences between monitoring, evaluation and research, and works as a handy self-guide for evaluation teams.

Evaluation Methodology Basics – The nuts and bolts of sound evaluation: E. Jane Davidson

If you are working on a project and are unsure of the best evaluation method for your context, this is a great guide. This book takes a systematic approach to identifying the right evaluation methodology, by identifying specific criteria. This book will also provide with you with an understanding of how and when to use qualitative and quantitative information to present a sound, and rigorous evaluation.

The Economics of International Development: William Easterly

As you embark on your M&E career in current times, being critical of your craft is essential if you’re hoping to make meaningful and lasting change in the world. Thus, no list of important M&E reading would be complete without reading some of the leading authors on International Development. This book will provide some context when working in development economies, and the (sometimes perverse) incentives of foreign aid, and all the development and M&E that comes with this.

Evaluation Models – Viewpoints on Education and Human Services Evaluation – Scriven, M, Madaus, GF, Stufflebeam, DL Eds.

This collection of papers is a powerful exploration of some of the metaphysical first principles around the philosophy of science, and how this affects the way we evaluate. When we are evaluating project, we are essentially building models, or depictions of the logic behind these programmes, which, in turn, involves some strong assumptions about the way the world works, especially as we’re required to make value judgements, and determine ‘better’, or ‘worse’, and what improvement, or optimum looks like. This book will help you to remain open, and to keep critical thinking at the core of your practice.

Principles-Focused Evaluation: Michael Quinn Patton

This book proposes a method of assessing whether the organizational principles can and do actually lead to the actualization of required results. Principles are important in keeping organisations and programmes on track, and writing these well can be critical to achieving results. In this book, Quinn Patton proposes the GUIDE framework for assessing principles, an interesting methodology to add to your M&E toolbox.

Standards-Based & Responsive Evaluation: Robert E. Stake

The strength of evaluations stands not just in their explicit content, but on how relevant this is to the audience and context. As you embark on an evaluation, you are frequently faced with choices as to how best to proceed in answering your evaluation question, and in any strategic exercise, making the right choice is important. This book is a great guide to see you through the strategic steps of sound evaluation.

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About Angela Biden

Angela Biden is a consulting strategist and M&E consultant. She has worked across a range of development, and business contexts. She holds a Masters in Economics and Philosophy, and has worked in the nexus of M&E and social impact; to help those doing good do more of it; for some 15 years. From policy board rooms, to Tech start-ups, to grass roots NGOs working in the face of the world’s most abject challenges; Angela is focused on conducting relevant and meaningful M&E: fit for purpose, realistic, and useful for stakeholders creating positive change.
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