Monday, October 28, 2013

Learn IPM Impact Assessment with New Online Resources

Are you planning new IPM research, or applying for a Western IPM Center grant, and want to know how to assess the impact of your project?

The Western IPM Center’s IPM Adoption and Impacts Assessment Work Group, a collection of natural and social scientists from across the country, has created online resources showing IPM researchers how to conduct basic impact assessments.

Two webinars are being held to introduce researchers to those assessment tools: November 6 at 1 p.m. Pacific and December 3 at 1 p.m. Pacific. The training will be conducted by Dr. Al Founier, University of Arizona. (Please RSVP for the webinars by emailing Carla Thomas to specify which date you plan to attend.)

The webinar address is

    “The aim is to provide a toolkit that will allow people who don’t have training in impact assessment methods to do basic impact assessments,” said Neil McRoberts, a plant pathologist at UC Davis who coordinates the group. “We recognize that impacts can be measured in lots of different ways – economic impacts, changes in social networks, or changes in environmental effects – and that different approaches will be relevant in different contexts. So the aim is to provide people with the means to do a range of different types, at an introductory level.”

    The online resources include an introduction to impact assessment, and modules on surveys, economic analysis, social network analysis, focus groups and observation data. Chapters within each module include when a measurement or method is appropriate, what to collect, how to collect it, how to analyze it and how to report it.

    “I think the core techniques we’re suggesting people use are likely to remain valid for a long time,” said McRoberts, who stressed that the modules are careful to warn users when they’ll need to call in economists or social scientists.

    “We’re taking pains to define the limitations of what’s on offer so that people don’t over-reach,” he said.

    One goal is to get researchers thinking about impact assessment at the beginning of their projects so they can include assessment plans in their initial proposals. Another benefit is that IPM researchers will become more proficient in basic social science methods.

    “We’re hoping that the modules will be recognized by funders as a viable proxy for having actual economists or social scientists do simple impact assessments,” McRoberts said. “That would help reduce something of a bottleneck that has been developing in impact assessment.”

    Instead of social scientists teaching the basics over and over, it frees up time to collaborate with IPM researchers with more sophisticated datasets.

    “We support project directors to better plan their project assessment,” said Center Director Jim Farrar. “This effort leverages social science talent from all regions.”

    Access the assessment training here. Download the Center RFA at

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