Research and evaluation
For decades, clients from United States federal agencies to international organizations have relied on ICF to efficiently design, execute, and disseminate results from research and evaluation to enable them to address their toughest challenges.
ICF offers a full suite of innovative and flexible methodologies and has particular expertise in applying these methods creatively to match the specific need and audience. We help clients develop measurable indicators, rigorous information collection, insightful performance analysis, and program effectiveness to drive informed decisions on issues that matter profoundly to their success.
Experimental and quasi-experimental research
ICF helps clients develop and improve programs through rigorous, custom-designed research, often combining experimental and quasi-experimental methods implemented over multiple sites.
ICF develops and implements flexible, mixed-method approaches that blend qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct program assessments—determining not just whether a program works, but how it works, why it works, and where it can work best—and create a study with long-term value for our clients. Applying our broad technology expertise, ICF’s experimental studies proceed faster and easier using tools such as integrated standalone and web-based data management systems that are unique and adaptable.
ICF addresses the full lifecycle of experimental and quasi-experimental research services, including:
- Methodology and study design
- Training and technical assistance for study implementation
- Quantitative and qualitative data analysis
- Database and systems development
- Secondary data analysis
- Multilevel analysis
- Reports and publication of results
- Programming for sustainable quality improvement
Our team includes Ph.D.-level statisticians and subject matter experts in areas such as economics, health, and education, giving us a rich understanding of the contextual environment in which a study is performed, and informing results and analysis with our proven expertise.
ICF supports clients with formative and summative program evaluation to help them shape, improve, and transform programs for greater effectiveness.
Whether performing an insightful, early-stage evaluation or a data-rich, long-term evaluation, ICF applies highly rigorous methodologies to help clients determine how a program measures up and find methods by which clients can improve programs.
At ICF, we know the same toolkit does not address the program evaluation needs of every client. For our tailored, unique program evaluations, ICF uses a combination of traditional and state-of-the-art analytic methods and tools, including:
- Evaluability assessments
- Implementation evaluation
- Logic models
- Program content reviews
- Randomized control trials
- Propensity score matching
- Research framework advice
- Single-case designs
- Quantitative analysis of designs
- Synthesis of mixed-method research
- Case studies
- Ethnographic studies
- Social network analysis
- Secondary data research
In addition, our robust and targeted focus group research capabilities can help identify efficiencies and gaps and obtain results in a matter of weeks. ICF’s experience with implementation or process evaluation allows clients to develop a program iteratively and make midcourse corrections.
Our program evaluation services also include monthly evaluation briefings, continuous data quality reports, reports to the U.S. Congress, and utilization products geared to multiple audiences, including the people directly implementing programs, to empower change.
Research and Evaluation Institute (REI)
ICF's Research and Evaluation Institute (REI) promotes innovation and cost-effectiveness in our research and evaluation practice. REI provides a forum to share knowledge, build capacity, and promote professional development.
Representing more than 350 ICF professionals world-wide, REI supports ICF's research and evaluation community. By fostering collaboration among the company's researchers and evaluators, the Institute enhances ICF's ability to deliver cutting-edge and practical client solutions.
REI maintains expertise in numerous topic areas, including health, education, energy, and transportation. Leaders of this multidisciplinary team:
- Regularly publish work in peer-reviewed journals and guest-edit special issues
- Present findings at national and international professional conferences
- Maintain a unifying set of research and evaluation principles based on best practices in their respective fields to benefit ICF clients
Grounded in a culture of lifelong learning, REI provides intellectual leadership that keeps ICF at the forefront of research and evaluation. REI members are active in professional organizations such as the American Evaluation Association (AEA), the American Public Health Association (APHA), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR).
Ultimately, REI benefits ICF clients. As a community of practice for professional development and capacity building, REI strengthens ICF's ability to effectively staff projects. As a facilitator of knowledge-sharing across countries, cultures, and domains, it helps ICF researchers and evaluators directly apply their collective learning to work in the field.
Monitoring and evaluation capacitybBuilding
ICF enables clients to build capacity in program monitoring and evaluation in areas such as public health, social services, and education, determining performance indicators and standardized data elements.
Building capacity in monitoring and evaluation in organizations and individuals allows maximum resource use, particularly when establishing programs in challenging environments such as developing countries. ICF’s experience in these circumstances—and our innovative and flexible approach to monitoring and evaluation—benefits clients seeking to build these internal capacities and helps clients keep their programs on target.
We train clinical staff, field workers, and trainers within organizations to define and implement studies and evaluations that are meaningful and lead to actionable results and improved outcomes. At the organizational level, ICF helps define evaluation needs and plans for implementation.
In addition to training and technical assistance for building monitoring and evaluation capacity, ICF provides strategic services to help clients:
- Manage change and communicate developments to grantees or awardees
- Adjust data collection systems or indicators to reflect program changes
- Produce report snapshots to show continued progress
- Leverage existing resources to expand capacity in monitoring and evaluation
- Successfully implement school improvement and reform initiatives