Unlike most research carried out for various reasons and also at distinct times to prove or disapprove a point, Evaluation research forms part of a policy process. It is usually the last stage of the policy process. According to Hagan (2014) it evolved from technology and probably the reason it is not founded on theory. It seeks to put emphasis on the accomplishment of a goal or mission with the aim of offering feedback to the policy makers (286). After a successful evaluation research has been conducted, three questions must be answered in order to inform decision making: (a) Whether the findings will be used, (b) whether the project is evaluable, and
(c) who can carry out the work. This paper seeks to compare and contrast the two major types of evaluation research as present by Hagan (2014).
Firstly, evaluation research is defined as the measure of how a program is affected in terms of outcomes, specific program criteria, its outcome or specific goals. It essentially measures the effects of a program against the set goals with the aim of contributing to further decision making concerning the program (Hagan, 2014-286).
According to Hagan (2014) there are numerous types of evaluation research that include: policy research, decision oriented research, applied research, continuous-vs-one-shot evaluations, “hip pocket” –versus-formal evaluations, action research, social audit among others. He also notes that some of these evaluation researches are used synonymously. However, Hagan notes two that stand out as the two main types of evaluation research: Impact evaluation and process evaluation. As noted from the definition, impact evaluation resonates more with the definition of research evaluation, almost directly as it deals with the causal relationship of accomplished goals (outcomes) that have been realized. For example, increase of drug abuse in a certain region. On the other hand, process evaluation is more concerned with what happens in between the results (causal relationship). This also includes project activities and inputs (292). An example in line with the above example may also include more drug traffickers expanding in the region.
The two types of research have a similar role as both merely seek to find out the causal relationship between outcomes or results and come up with useful information that can be used by the policy makers to decide on a way forward.
On the contrary, the two differ in that, while evaluation research is mainly known to evaluate output classical of impact research, Hagan notes that it should not only be restricted to output. It can also involve a systematic assessment of within a program such as efficiency, efforts, effectiveness and adequacy of performance, and operations among others. This is where process research mainly falls in as opposed to impact research (Hagan, 2014, p. 292).
In conclusion, Hagan (2014) has categorized evaluation research into two fitting types. If it is not studying the causal relationship of the general outcome it should be studying the causal relationship between the results. All the other types of evaluation research identified by the different scholars fall within one of the two categories given by Hagan. Such studies are paramount, especially in recent times being dominated by technology. Stakeholders and policy makers of various programs need well researched data to inform their decisions going forward.