Planned Comparisons Demystified uri icon


  • Links between research and development are continuously evolving. They are becomingmore important in agriculture, agroforestry and rural development as demand intensifies forlarge-scale transformation of livelihoods through development initiatives that are built onsound evidence. Recent research indicates that the performance of technical and socialoptions intended to effect transformation depend on the context in which they are applied,and that those contexts vary at fine scale. This means that we rarely find simple solutions thatcan be scaled up to large areas and numbers of people without adaptation to localcircumstances. At the same time, it is not feasible with the resources available to conductresearch 'everywhere' and with â??everyoneâ??. This puts us on the horns of a fundamentaldilemma in which we need research results at scale but have conventional researchapproaches that are not able to provide them. We show here that this dilemma can be partiallyresolved by embedding research in development activity. An important method for achievingthis is through use of â??planned comparisonsâ??. Conventional monitoring and evaluation ofdevelopment projects uses a retrospective approach to try to learn from what has happened inthe past. We propose a more efficient prospective approach, in which comparisons of optionsand contexts are planned as part of development activity. Research results are generatedthrough minor modifications to development activities rather than from distinct researchwork streams. This facilitates co-learning amongst researchers, development professionalsand beneficiaries. Here, principles for design of planned comparisons are presented alongwith a generic process for implementing them

publication date

  • 2017