How to evaluate your SciComm Project

written by Antónia Ribeiro for one and a half


So here you are: you planned your outreach activity, you wrote the proposal, the funding was approved, you did what you set out to do.
And yet, at times it can feel like your effort amounted to nothing. You are exactly at the same point as you were before all the hassle. What went wrong and what should have you done differently?

This is a tricky question to answer, even more so when you don't evaluate your activities

Evaluation makes you learn from your mistakes

Evaluation is often overlooked. It can make or break your initiatives, give context for your success and guide your future steps. It will tell you what did and didn’t work, and most importantly, why.

Besides improving the quality of your project, it will increase the robustness of your grant applications. Evaluation proves the value and impact of your initiative.

This is a thorough procedure that needs to be planned from the beginning of your outreach project. Consider it as research on its own.

Approach evaluation as a gradual process that organically follows every step of your activity. It is not a hill you have to climb, it’s a lovely afternoon hike.

How to carry evaluation on your Science Communication Project

1. Decide your goal.
We touched on this subject in “How to choose the method”. What do you want to achieve with your outreach activity? Raise awareness of a problem? Increase youth literacy in science or engage your community in sustainable practices? One and a Half helps you transform your ideas into animations that will match your project goals.

2. Set your objectives. Break your goal into smaller objectives. For example, to increase youth science literacy you may set two objectives: do a presentation in schools and write a children’s book about Anti-matter. Spicer (2017) advises to keep the goals SMART:

      • Specific: do your objectives state what you will do and with whom?
      • Measurable: can you measure their success?
      • Achievable: do you have enough time and resources to achieve your objectives?
      • Relevant: do they meet your aims?
      • Time-bound: do they include timescales?

3. Consider your audience (you may have read our article and be already an expert on this topic).
For evaluation, the audience is not only the public but also you, your team and your partners.

4. Measure your success. Create evaluation questions - they should be specific and based on your goal and objectives. Don’t forget to consider your resources when preparing your questions. If you don’t have the time or the team to analyse the data you collect, there is no point in collecting it at all. And be realistic about what you can assess.

      • For example, “Was my activity successful” is too generic to answer; it needs to be broken down. More specific questions would be “How many people did I reach with my video” and “Did the readers of my article feel inspired to change their attitude?”.
      • What is best to measure success, the number of attendees or the impact of the activity in their lives? And how would you measure either of these?

5. Collect your data. This can happen both after the activity or before. The data taken before an activity sets a baseline. For example, if you want to measure how your activity impacted people’s attitude towards political sciences, you can ask their opinion on the subject at the beginning and end of the activity. Take into consideration that not always do the participants want to partake in the evaluation of the activity.

6. Analyse everything. This is when you get the answers to your question. How exactly to analyse your results depends on the data you collected. Questionnaires and forms can be transformed into graphs. If you created a website or a social media page, you need to look into the platform statistics. You can find more information on data analysis here.

The data collection method depends on your evaluation goals

When you decide your objectives, you realise what data you need to collect. When you understand the data you want, you can design your collection method.

Data can be collected through forms, focus groups, team meetings, social media’s statistics or even through silent bystanders. 

For best results, you should aim for a mixture of qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative measures tell you the “why” of your results. They are insights into the workings of your subject. Quantitative research gives you objective numbers that measure your variable, thus allowing you to predict outcomes.

In the table below, you can find examples of data collection methods.


*source link → World Cafe Method **source link → Graffiti walls

Things to consider when collecting data 

  • Consider the time you will have to analyse the data.
  • Think of the likelihood of your audience giving you the information you need. Will they have time to fill a form? Are your questions clear and accessible? 
  • Be aware of national regulations on data protection and, if you plan to publish the results of the evaluation, ethics guidelines.

Evaluation is a powerful ally for your science communication strategy;  With a little love and practice, you can consolidate your analysis into a successful SciCom project.

Other resources

At one and a half, we are passionate about research communications and getting your findings seen.
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If you are curious about how your research project can benefit from animation, contact us today for a free consultation at OR here. If you found this article helpful, please let us know in the comment section below! 

We thank these lovely ladies for their collaboration

Illustrations and infographics by Christina Kalli.

Written by Antónia Ribeiro

Antónia Ribeiro Bio

Antónia was a Biologist, once upon a time. She transitioned from the glamorous world of lab benches and international conferences to her one true love - Science Communication.
Portuguese by birth, Antónia is based in Malta. Besides being a freelance science writer, she works as a Social Media Manager for a research magazine and manages an Erasmus+ project for strategic partnerships.

Antónia has a Bachelor in Biology and a Master’s in Biomedical Research from the University of Coimbra, in Portugal. In her free time, she pets street cats and educates people on Portuguese gastronomy - often against their will.

You can find her on Linkedin

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