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Background: Data collection is a critical component of all evaluations. However, it often presents a number of challenges under the best of circumstances. For instance, the evaluation budget and time frame both have implications for the quality and type of data that is collected. Additionally, adherence to high quality international ethical best practices is necessary when collecting data for any purpose, methodological rigor is important for ensuring the credibility of the evaluation, improving access to important documents and stakeholders, as well as decreasing excessive evaluation anxiety on the part of critical stakeholders, when possible, is vital. These challenges have now been considerably exacerbated by the COVID-19 global health pandemic which has changed our world in fundamental ways. In what is now considered as our new normal environment, evaluators will need to make profound changes to the manner in which they plan and undertake data collection.
Objectives: This paper examines the many and varied challenges that will be encountered with data collection in our new normal environment. This new normal has had an impact on evaluation practices in all countries, developed and developing, and has significantly amplified existing challenges in countries with limited evaluation culture, budgets, technological coverage, access, and connectivity. It makes an important contribution to the literature since data collection has historically and traditionally been conducted using primarily face-to-face field work and through the freedom of movement of people to undertake this task.
Setting: Not applicable.
Intervention: Not applicable.
Research Design: Desk review was utilized for the preparation of this paper.
Findings: Evaluators need to be extremely flexible, innovative, and amendable to different approaches to data collections as our new normal environment will likely be with us for a while. This pandemic has thrown everyone a very painful curveball and introduced significant new work-related challenges for a myriad of work types and work environments. Innovation and the willingness to learn new methods have become an important necessity to help with learning, accountability, transparency. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the plight of the most vulnerable and evidence-based data is the only means to assist this group. Evaluators must rise to the challenge, devise new ways to collect data that is credible and useful, and continue to promote the importance and benefits of the field of evaluation. As such, evaluators have an important role to play in the global economic recovery efforts.
Keywords: budgets, challenges; COVID-19; data collection; evaluation; evaluators; new normal environment; time frame
Copyright 2016 Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Western Michigan University.