Evaluation and Evaluative Thinking:

Insights for methods, capabilities, culture and implementation

26-27 May 2021
De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, London

Update regarding the UK Evaluation Society conference

Due to COVID-19 and lockdown, we had to postpone the conference for 2020 – the new dates are 26-27 May 2021 in the same venue of the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, London. We will keep the theme of Evaluation and Evaluative Thinking: Insights for methods, capabilities, culture and implementation because it remains highly relevant and a core element in evaluation capacity building.

We will be taking forwards the abstracts submitted for the 2020 conference to 2021 but giving people the opportunity to update or change their abstracts nearer the time. We will also encourage new abstracts to be submitted as there has been a wealth of initiatives and innovation related to COVID-19 and we will be keen to showcase evaluative approaches used during this time. There will therefore be an additional call for abstracts in the autumn/winter of 2020.

We are contacting everyone who submitted abstracts for the conference and will post updates on the UK Evaluation website and Twitter (#UKevaluation and @UKevaluation).

We hope that you are coping well and thank you for your patience in these unprecedented circumstances.

Evaluation has increasingly become a specialist field, with notable methodological developments in both quantitative and qualitative approaches. However, the area of evaluative thinking has also emerged as important. Definitions vary but include that it is critical thinking applied to both formal evaluations and informal evaluative efforts, that it is an ongoing process of critical reflection and that it blends monitoring and evaluation. It is also seen as a core element in evaluation capacity building. By including evaluative thinking in the conference theme, we wish to signal that the conference encourages a broad scope of contributions, including from those working in a range of fields where systematic inquiry and evaluative judgement inform learning and decisions, even if these are not typically seen as evaluations. Learning cultures, capabilities for evaluative thinking and embedding evaluation and evaluative thinking in implementation processes are all suitable areas to explore in the conference.

Methods: sharing innovative tools, frameworks, methods for monitoring, evaluation and learning, and their application to strategies, programmes and projects in ways that will help delegates learn and improve their use. Abstracts that relate to methods such as democratic and participatory evaluation, evaluations using adaptive and developmental approaches, and methods using digital tools and machine learning analyses will be well received.

Capabilities: Building evaluation capacity, adaptive skills and/or enhancing practice in understanding judgements about value or quality with critical thinking and reflection.

Culture: Exploring, strengthening and sustaining a questioning and evidence-seeking approach in our organisational practices and culture. Who are evaluators and who are we missing in our community of practice?

Implementation: sharing the application of evaluation and evaluative thinking to strategies, programmes and projects that will give delegates insights to their own work. Abstracts may include innovative approaches to use of evaluation, evaluative thinking, and short-cycle learning loops and adaptation in the project cycle.


Whether you are new to evaluation or very experienced, from academia, government, consultancy or civil society, you will have a lot to share, learn and debate at this conference of the leading professional organisation for evaluation in the UK.

The conference will celebrate evaluation and evaluative thinking and welcome everyone to an inclusive community of practice. There will be great opportunities to network and build relationships for learning and collaboration. We welcome existing members, new members and non-members who are interested to see what it is all about!

We will have eminent speakers from multiple sectors who will provide valuable and interesting perspectives that will help shape our thinking for the future. Already booked to our delight is Professor Trish Greenhalgh, an internationally recognised academic expert in evaluation and interdisciplinary research. We will also have a range of interactive oral sessions and paper presentations in various formats occurring in parallel and a separate space for posters.

Evaluative thinking means understanding judgements about value or quality that we and others make – a questioning and evidence-seeking approach to support or refute those claims. It underpins what evaluators do, our monitoring and evaluation methods and our capabilities. It relates to both our individual critical thinking and our organisational practices and culture. As a community, we are interested in how we can strengthen and sustain evaluative thinking in people and organisations and how we can maximise its benefit.

Format of the conference

The conference will have presentations from keynote speakers and, in response to feedback, a range of 90-minute sessions in various formats, occurring in parallel sessions. All types of delegate from across the evaluation community are invited to submit abstracts for these parallel oral sessions. There will also be an opportunity for delegates to display posters. The whole event is designed to provide an atmosphere of debate and networking.

Oral sessions should aim to be participatory and interactive, sharing delegates’ evaluation learning in a non-lecturing manner. Formats may include:

  • Paper Presentations
  • World Café / Workshop
  • Open forum / Networking
  • Discussion panels / roundtables
  • Software demonstration
  • Pecha kucha speed session

How to submit abstracts

A call for abstracts will be issued later in 2020.