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Table 2 Recommendations to optimize the benefits of evaluations of collaborations using pluralistic approaches

From: Methodological pluralism for better evaluations of complex interventions: lessons from evaluating an innovation platform in Australia

Ensure that leaders are willing to invest resources in the evaluation to allow it to be undertaken within an adequate time frame, and that leaders are open and flexible to making changes when required.
Assemble an evaluation team with a variety of evaluation expertise and negotiate scope to contract specific methodological expertise as required.
Engage evaluators with high-level facilitation skills to engage and sustain participation.
Use an embedded evaluator to optimize the evaluator’s ability to engage stakeholders in the evaluation and ensure findings are translated into practice.
Keep the overall goal of the evaluation in mind and reflect on the goal regularly when considering emergent and responsive approaches to evaluation findings.
Consider evaluation approaches that allow for “zooming in” on details, but also on “zooming out” to see the big picture and the interconnections within the system.
Be alert to possibilities for maximizing data collection opportunities and coordinate evaluation activities in a way that will avoid evaluation fatigue of collaboration members.
Take advantage of synergies and use of routinely collected data sources where possible to reduce the burden of collecting new data for each evaluation approach.
Enthusiasm for the involvement of end-users in the evaluation must be tempered with clear definitions of who they are and an understanding of the demands on their time.
Create space for reflection and provide flexibility for new user perspectives and new questions to emerge, with the evaluation team or management group offering a forum for this to occur.
Include opportunities in the evaluation plan for reflection on the experience of using pluralist methodologies and on whether methodological changes need to be made.
Include opportunities in the evaluation for feedback to and from stakeholders, e.g. when results from each method are available and at the end of the evaluation for input to integrate the findings.