Shutdown of the original Theorymaker
Since about 2012 (I think) I’ve been providing an app called Theorymaker as a simple text-based way to construct theories of change for evaluators. It’s always been free. It was used by hundreds of people over the years. Unfortunately a few days ago the app ceased to function for a reason I don’t understand. Probably Amazon AWS (where it is hosted) have changed something I’m not aware of. I’m so busy at the moment with Causal Map that sadly I don’t have time to work out what’s happened and fix it.
You can still reach it at http://ec2-52-36-229-220.us-west-2.compute.amazonaws.com/: you might get a security warning but you can ignore that.
I made an AI version here: https://causalmap.shinyapps.io/theorymaker3/.
If you have a ChatGPT Plus there is an amazing app which does all of this and more.
I’m very sorry that the original app is no longer available and for any inconvenience this might have caused. When I get a bit more spare time I’ll see if I can find out what happened. Get in touch if you need anything.
I am an independent researcher and program evaluator; right now I am co-founder and Director at Causal Map Ltd.
- PDFs of reports and publications
- LinkedIn (I write frequently on evaluation issues)
- Publications on Google Scholar
- Research Gate
This blog is like an attic where I put stuff that doesn’t fit in any of those categories. Up to January 2024 there was quite a lot of old stuff here which I have now removed. Contact me if you are looking for something ancient and can’t find it.
I was based in Sarajevo 1997-2017, where I did a lot of research in B&H and the Balkans.
In Sarajevo I cofounded proMENTE social research, where I also worked. Prior to proMENTE, I worked as Programme Manager of a series of academic and training projects for students and psychosocial professionals in South-East Europe for the University of Munich with Prof. Willi Butollo.
Now I have moved with my family to Clevedon, near Bristol in the UK, where I am working with Causal Map Ltd to build the first (we think) app for causal QDA. This is a really exciting voyage of discovery.
As you might be able to guess from the above, I have studied philosophy, maths and psychology.
I have over 25 years’ experience in research, monitoring and evaluation, as well as communicating the results, in about 30 different countries (mainly SE Europe, S & SE Asia / Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa) on a wide variety of topics from disaster response in Haiti and psychosocial programming after the 2004 tsunami to social capital in the former Soviet Union, biodiversity in W Africa, community resilience in East Africa and counting stray dogs in Sarajevo.
I am strong in both quantitative (GIS, “big data”, online & mobile, SPSS; R) and qualitative (Outcome Mapping, text analysis) research and evaluation approaches. I try to make my evidence-gathering transparent and am convinced of the importance of reproducible research.
As a freelancer, I mostly deal with monitoring, evaluation and research for international development and disaster recovery programmes. This has meant working with some great people, especially at the IFRC. So I set up M&E systems and also conduct evaluations and carry out research. Subject-wise I try to remain a generalist, because I love dipping into different themes as necessary, from environmental protection and beneficiary communication to volunteerism and PTSD.
Theories of Change in evaluation
My special interest is causal mapping and theories of change in evaluation.
A while ago I wrote a set of slides on Theories of Change.
I also provide a free web app for constructing graphical Theories of Change using a visual and written language I call “Theorymaker”. It is text-based. I’ve lost the code for the original version, but I recently made an AI version for fun.
My academic research has been mainly in the field of clinical psychology especially after war, covering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and post-traumatic growth.
Causal Mapping - an earlier guide
It seems like ancient history now, but I’ve just come across some writings from last year about causal mapping and our new app. Enjoy.
An evaluation puzzle: “Talent show”
An NGO offers a play activity for Roma children, with the modest aim of “Providing safe and supportive spaces”.
Most of the children don’t like the activity and nearly all stay away.
But one of the children is introduced to the clarinet through the activity.
The child goes on to win a national talent show and a record contract.
The child’s fame does a lot for the community — children are more self-confident, the municipal authority is more responsive, neighbouring communities are more friendly …
The NGO argues that the project’s effectiveness and impact were huge. But others say that these successes were essentially accidental.
You are asked to comment.
An evaluation puzzle: “Mobile first”
Oxfam fixes the mobile network in the whole country, and Save the Children fixes the school.
The school couldn’t have been fixed without the mobile network.
No other agency had the ability to fix the mobile network.
In their report (using a universal standardised reporting format) Oxfam record this as “one school fixed”, arguing if our organisation hadn’t stepped in, the school wouldn’t have been built (counterfactual) but we did step in, and it was. Ergo, our organisation caused the fixing of the school. (And dozens of other schools, and everything else which could only be done because we fixed the network).
You are asked to comment.
An evaluation puzzle: “Many hands”
In its report, CARE say they saved the villagers from being swept away in the flood.
A critic argues, even if CARE hadn’t intervened (counterfactual), the villagers wouldn’t have been swept away, because there was a surplus of aid agencies around with suitable boats, and most of them in fact had nothing to do. Ergo, CARE’s contribution didn’t make any difference.
You are asked to comment.