Making your research accessible

Theory of Change

By 26 September 2015

Creating and evaluating a Theory of Change (ToC) is a prerequisite for most large international development research projects with government funding. Here at R2A we have collected some useful resources for creating a Theory of Change and neatly summarised what DFID expect.

  1. Andrew Clappison’s Two Step Guide to asking the ‘Key Questions for Creating a Theory of Change for Research Uptake’ will help you to remain focused when collaboratively building a ToC as part of a group. See Part 1 and Part 2.
  2. R2A Held a Theory of Change Week in 2014, and the podcasts and slideshares covering an ‘Introduction to Theory of Change’, ‘Understanding Assumptions’, ‘Monitoring and Evaluation’ are well worth a watch and listen.
  3. This video interview with Duncan Green and Simon Batchelor discussing Theories of Change at an R4D workshop offers some nice insights into their usage in research programmes.
  4. Isabel Vogel was commission by DFID to carry out a review of the use of Theories of Change within development, back in 2012. The report and executive summary can be found here.
  5. Andrew Clappison blogged about his thoughts on the ‘10 ways DFID can improve Theories of Change for Research Uptake’, one of which was a suggestion that DFID not be too prescriptive about what the ToC should look like.
  6. The ODI recently released a new publication called ‘Theories of Change: time for a radical approach to learning in development’ in which Craig Valters argues that ToCs can create ‘a productive (albeit small) space for critical reflection’ on institutional incentives and learning within development programmes.
  7. On Think Tanks produced an annotated resource list around Theories of Change, which nicely encapsulates a summarised peer led discussion on ToCs.  
  8. Duncan Green vented his frustrations about the phenomenon of ToCs or as he nicknamed them ‘logframes on steroids’ in the piece entitled ‘what is a theory of change and how do we use it?’ and he offers some suggested pitfalls to avoid in the follow up piece ‘what use is a theory of change? 6 benefits and some things to avoid.’
  9. 3ie succinctly captures ‘Why a Theory of Change Matters’ in this blog, using an analogy to seemingly spurious scientific results and chocolate bars!
  10. Finally, the Centre for Theory of Change offers free software for building and monitoring a Theory of Change. They also have a handy Glossary that will dispel any hazy understanding of terminology which might remain after reading all of the above resources.

More information and resources can be found on the R2A ‘How To’ section dedicated to developing and using Theories of Change.

This resource list is intended to be dynamic and updated regularly. We welcome your input and any suggested resources in the comment section below or alternatively, you can tweet them to us via @Research2Action.