The Systems Evaluation Protocol for evaluation planning

Jennifer Brown Urban, Monica Hargraves, Jane Buckley, Thomas Archibald, Claire Hebbard, William M. Trochim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present a comprehensive integrative approach to evaluation planning based on Relational Systems Evaluation (RSE). We describe the major implementation approaches and the tools and resources that support evaluation planning in RSE embodied in the Systems Evaluation Protocol (SEP), a step-by-step guide to the tasks that every evaluation should address. The SEP provides both a conceptual framework for thinking about evaluation and a set of specific methods and tools that expand awareness of the influences of multiple parts of complex systems. The SEP is implemented through a partnership approach, joining evaluators and program professionals in an iterative, phased approach to evaluation planning, which also often emphasizes evaluation capacity building (ECB) as an intentional goal. This paper provides a practice-oriented overview of the specific steps comprising the three stages outlined in the SEP: preparation, model development, and evaluation plan development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-45
Number of pages15
JournalNew Directions for Evaluation
Issue number169
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021


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