Questions on how to collect monitoring and evaluation data responsibly

/ April 15, 2015

When collecting data to monitor projects, is there a need to push back and be more thoughtful about our approach?  Amy O’Donnell of RDF partner organization Oxfam on the recent London TechSalon on using ICTs for monitoring, evaluation and learning:

Some participants shared that monitoring, evaluation and learning can often be “funder focused” as there are requirements for organisations to present impact to donors on a central level…

Only capturing data which is necessary is a crucial pillar in the ongoing responsible data agenda, as we explore the responsibility to use information we collect.

This is not only to reduce the burden on communities in the process of data collection, but furthermore to stress the importance of ensuring contributors are represented based on the information they have entrusted to others.

While discussing ethical issues, questions were also raised about who owns the data anyway? And how do we respect the rights of groups of people as information is aggregated, when the norm is to focus on the individual?’

Do you or your organization struggle with these questions, and have you come up with any solutions? Let us know in the comments.


Image from A users’ guide for monitoring tech and accountability programming, CC BY 3.0

(This post by DevPolicy gives a good recent example of the burden on communities that collecting too much information can involve.)

About the contributor

Tom started out writing and editing for newspapers, consultancies and think tanks on topics including politics and corruption in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, then moved into designing and managing election-related projects in countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Bolivia. After getting interested in what data and technology could add in those areas and elsewhere, he made a beeline for The Engine Room. Tom is trying to read all of the Internet, but mostly spends his time picking out useful resources and trends for organisations using technology in their work.

See Tom's Articles

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