RE: Using synthesis and meta-analysis to make the most of evaluative evidence: what is your experience? | Eval Forward

Dear Carlos,

Just a few supplementary remarks on the subject; strictly speaking, they may not seem relevant, but I think one has to be a pragmatist in order to use a synthetic approach to attain a goal. In my view, pragmatism is implicit to synthesis.

Therefore, taking every factor that has a bearing on a successful outcome becomes a logical necessity every synthesis should embody. This entails a comprehensive analysis of not only documented data, but also the specific external contextual variables like the needs and capacities of the potential beneficiaries (real people in the target area) and the resources at one's disposal to implement and sustain a given project or plan. Obviously, this has to be undertaken before planning a project based on a holistic synthesis of the relevant facts as revealed by the pre-project analysis. At this point, I think it would be very useful to carry out a pre-implementation evaluation of the planned project so that its strengths and weaknesses could be ascertained before actual implementation.

If this is tenable, then meta-analysis by itself would not  be sufficient to underwrite the success of a project, and it may under certain conditions give one a false sense of completeness and correctness that could be undesirable. Hope this would be of some use.