Dissemination is the process of sharing impact evaluation (intermediate or final) results to impact policy decisions and direct resources towards proven and effective interventions. Effective dissemination of findings and results involves careful planning, thought, consideration of target audiences, and communication with those audiences.
- Dissemination is critical to translate evidence into policy action.
- Effective dissemination should identify key messages that summarize the most policy-relevant results and recommendations.
- Evidence should be communicated in a form that is accessible and useful to decision makers.
- Adequate sequencing of dissemination results is crucial to maximize policy impact.
- A clear and detailed dissemination plan will ensure reaching the right people at the right time and in an appropriate format.
Tailoring a dissemination strategy to different targeted audiences will guarantee results are consistently reaching out technical and non-technical consumers of evidence. Consider the following potential audiences for results dissemination:
- Technical, operational and management staff: Program staff and managers can become advocates for integrating impact evaluations in their interventions and need to be on board to support ongoing evaluations of their programs. They should be engaged in the early stages to obtain ‘buy-in’ and to ensure baseline data and preliminary results inform the intervention design.
- High-level policy makers: Those in charge of making policy decisions use impact evaluation results to expand, maintain, or decrease funding in their country policies and interventions.
- Development practitioners: Development academics, donors and civil society groups are a key audience of dissemination activities as they need evidence to design new approaches, fund programs, scale up pilots, replicate successful programs in different contexts/countries, and expand research.
A preprint is a version of a manuscript that precedes formal peer review and publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal. Publication of manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals often takes months (or years); the immediate distribution of preprints allows authors to receive early feedback from their peers, which may be helpful in revising and preparing articles for submission. The preprint may be available, often as a non-typeset version available for free, before a paper is published in a journal. Preprints may be considered as grey literature.
A working paper is a preliminary scientific or technical paper. Authors release working papers to share ideas about a topic or to elicit feedback before submitting to a peer reviewed conference or academic journal. Working papers are often the basis for related works, and may in themselves be cited by peer-review papers. They may also be considered as grey literature. Sometimes the term working paper is used synonymously as technical report. Working papers are typically hosted on websites, belonging to the paper’ author, the author's affiliated institution, or the evaluating institution. Working papers can also be published as part of a Working Paper Series.
An academic journal is a periodical publication in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as permanent and transparent forums for the presentation, scrutiny, and discussion of research. They are usually peer-reviewed or refereed. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, and book reviews.
Results briefs are short non-technical articles that can be published in many forms, including policy briefs, newsletters, and infographics. Technical reports and academic papers are the foundation of the dissemination plan; however, their length and technical language may intimidate non-technical readers. Creating concise summaries of impact evaluation results, with an attractive design and clear recommendations will reach out a broader audience of policymakers and practitioners formulating or influencing policy. It is useful engaging communications experts to produce visually appealing briefs written in a storytelling or journalistic fashion. Those briefs should utilize non-technical jargon, include pictures, and present results visually by using charts and graphs.
Other forums for disseminating impact evaluation results to academic audiences include presentations at seminars and academic conferences, and policymakers and stakeholders workshops are suit for policy outreach.