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Last updated: 08/12/2005

Methodological bases
Evaluation object (What?)


Scope of the evaluation


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What is this?

The scope of the evaluation is everything that is judged. It is defined in terms of various dimensions such as the territory concerned, the period under consideration and the regulatory framework, for example:

  • All the funds allocated by the European Union to Latin America since 1998.
  • Local development actions planned in Albania over the past four years.

A second perimeter specifies the related actions and elements of context to take into account, especially for the analysis of external coherence/complementarity. This is the extended scope, as opposed to the central scope.

The central scope is specified in the terms of reference and the extended scope in the inception report.

Why specify the evaluation scope?

  • To identify the commissioning body's expectations better and define clearer priorities for the evaluation
  • For the evaluation team to focus on priorities and not to waste its resources on areas of secondary interest.


How to delimit the central scope

in terms of a territorial perimeter

  • the world (global evaluation)
  • a region
  • a country
  • one or more areas within a country.

in terms of the period under consideration

  • the entire period during which the evaluated intervention was implemented (case of an ex post evaluation)
  • or only that which was implemented during the years [n-4 to n-2] so that the evaluation team can observe real effects in the field
  • or by including the preceding and/or next intervention.

in terms of the regulatory framework

  • a project
  • a support programme to sector policy
  • a country strategy
  • a regional co-operation agreement
  • an instrument.

in terms of the sector

Only where relevant:

  • an entire sector or field of intervention (education, agriculture, etc.)
  • or only a sub-sector
  • or a set of sectors.


How to delimit the extended scope

in terms of related policies

  • The interventions of national authorities or other donors covering the same territories
  • or targeting the same groups
  • or addressing the same problems.

in terms of co-funding

  • interventions co-funded with national authorities
  • interventions co-funded with other donors.



  • Limit the scope to allow more in-depth analysis of effects and a better understanding of the phenomena.
  • In the case of co-funded, multisectoral interventions, select a portion of the institutional and sectoral scope for a high-quality evaluation.

A warning:

Be careful not to confuse a sample (of individuals, firms, etc.) selected for survey purposes, with the evaluation scope. The sample is used to collect data and to infer results extrapolated for the entire survey group. In this case, the evaluation scope is the surveyed group.

Don't confuse scope and question, Examples:

  • scope = the entire country strategy; question = the effect on gender equality (question)
  • scope = multi-donor programme to support the national education policy; question = sustainability of the impact on the management of the education system.

A sector (e.g. education) can constitute a delineation of the scope, but the same does not apply to the cross-cutting issues (e.g. equal opportunities) that resemble questions. For example, a programme to support the national education policy (scope) will be evaluated from the point of view of gender equality (question).