Making judgements about language within written and spoken material

Evaluation constantly involves making judgements about the meaning of items within reports, plans, contracts etc.

  • In the vast majority of cases there is no significant disagreement about the meanings of words used, e.g. “questionnaire”, “police commissioner”, etc.
  • In some other, important, cases, project documentation and practice gives us ways to agree, algorithms, about other concepts which would otherwise be unclear such as project success, beneficiary satisfaction, etc.
  • In a final set of cases, there might be important disagreement about key concepts such as “negative effect”, “gender-appropriate”, “valuable” with no obvious way to adjudicate them. This falls under making a Judgement. One way the evaluator can help clarify is to make suggestions for plausible existing definitions, agreements etc. So the evaluator might say, the most widely accepted definition of “abuse” in this field is the xyz definition, and they say …“”. Even there might be post-hoc agreement to take this suggestion, the evaluator’s making of the suggestion counts as a Judgement.