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    UKES CONFERENCES CONSISTENTLY ADDRESS topical priorities and retain a strong practical emphasis. Participants appreciate our ability to convene practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds and the intellectual energy it stimulates. The 2013 Annual Evaluation Conference will again discuss issues of current concern to evaluators, focusing on How to identify "what works" based on robust evidence within tight time and resource constraints?
   
 

Evaluation has always been about combining learning and accountability. Both dimensions have become critically important as the UK and much of Europe confront an unprecedented and prolonged economic crisis. Commisioners complain that evaluations take too long, cost too much and say far too little about how to guide decision making in the real world. As a result, evaluation reports are too often ignored and left to gather dust. Results seldom reach the people that they are intended for. Nor do they contribute to the quality of life of individuals, communities and wider society. Are these criticisms valid? What can be done to address them? What stands in the way of evaluation excellence? Are evaluators equipped to rise to the challenge? What evaluation methods and practices offer the most promise in tackling complexity, risk and uncertainty?

How can evaluators measure the impact of policy initiatives (eg regarding youth unemployment) in a constrained resource environment? Are we able to capture the value of intangibles such as the glow created by the Olympics and its longer term socio-economic impact? Can evaluators step-up and make a distinctive contribution through creativity and innovation?

The conference will address these and other themes, from diverse perspectives (programme managers, evaluation commissioners, evaluators, etc.) We do not expect to deliver easy answers in identifying how evaluation can make a difference but we will hear about lessons learnt and good practices in evaluation whilst tackling the inevitable dilemmas and contradictions in making choices.

The conference will be relevant to a wide range of practitioners from different sectors and backgrounds – social, economic, education, employment/labour market and skills, health and development, from civil society, government and the private sectors. Speakers and discussants will be drawn from government, academia, business, think tanks and the voluntary sector.

Potential contributors are invited to propose discussions, seminar presentations, lectures or poster sessions. Some of the areas we aim to cover are:

  • What is good practice in reporting evaluation results?
  • What is the current thinking around theory of change and theory based evaluation?
  • How can we reliably attribute results to policy initiatives?
  • Where are new innovations in evaluation methods and approaches?
  • What is the appropriate balance between ex-ante with ex-post evaluations?
  • Is value for money a methodology or just a useful tool?
  • How to achieve defensible rigorous results without the cost and duration of RCTs?
     
    Conference Format
   

The conference will comprise presentations from keynote speakers, panel discussions and interactive plenary sessions, together with parallel sessions for which participants from across the evaluation community are invited to submit abstracts. There will also be an opportunity for participants to display posters.

A series of pre-conference training workshops will be held on the morning of 17 April, with the main conference commencing after lunch. A conference reception will be held on the evening of 17 April.

     
    Administration
    The conference administration is being undertaken by Professional Briefings. For further information on abstract submissions or any other aspect of the conference please contact:

Professional Briefings
1 St Mary's Courtyard
Church Street
Ware
Hertfordshire
SG12 9EF

Email: london@profbriefings.co.uk
Telephone: 01920 487672
Fax: 01920 462730
Website: www.evaluation.org.uk