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Session Title: Context, Pretext, and Agendas in Evaluations of Programs for the Homeless
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Plenary Session 200 to be held in Sebastian Section J on Thursday, Nov 12, 8:00 AM to 8:45 AM
Sponsored by the Presidential Strand
Debra Rog, Westat, debrarog@westat.com
James Wright, University of Central Florida, jwright@mail.ucf.edu
Abstract: Whether research in general or evaluation research in particular can be, or even should be, “objective” is in essence a question whether research can proceed with indifference to the context in which it occurs and the social, political, and research agendas of the investigator. Whether or not this might be desirable, I argue that it is not possible (and probably not desirable either). To proceed otherwise is to pursue a pretext of objectivity – i.e., to offer up an excuse for purposefully ignoring how context and agenda inevitably impinge upon the design, conduct, analysis and presentation of research and its results. Key points of the argument are illustrated with reference to examples from my own quarter-century history of evaluation research on programs for the homeless.

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