Published on Development Impact

A round-up of what we learnt from Dave Evans over the past five years

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Dave Evans is leaving the World Bank for an exciting new position at the Center for Global Development, and in his new role, will stop his regular contributions to Development Impact. He has been a fantastic contributor to our blog, joining five years ago, and he has posted almost 90 posts over this time. We wish him all the best in his new position, and thought we would send him off with a round-up of some of the many things we have learnt from Dave over these past five years. As the above wordcloud shows, much of his focus has been on education, where he has brought us highlights of many recent papers in this field, as well as the background lessons he learned on this while working on the World Development Report. But more broadly, among some of the many things we have learned from Dave are:
  1. There is plenty of scope to be more creative in how you summarize and disseminate research:
  • Dave is (in)famous for his micro-summaries of 100+ conference papers, as in his NEUDC round-ups, showing how the main point of a paper can often be crafted in a couple of sentences.
  • He is a fan of wordclouds, using this online tool, so in his honor we prepared the above word cloud of his blog post titles for Development Impact.
  • He is willing to innovate beyond the simple 2-page policy brief, blogpost, and paper. In this post he shares 10 ways to make your research known, including self-shooting a 90-second video in which he summarizes one of his papers, and then posting it on twitter, facebook and Youtube.
  • He created a set of policy “Smackdowns”, where researchers and operational staff use evidence and experience to debate topics, as he summarizes in this example of cash vs training.   But despite the fact that he is so famous, when you Google “Dave Evans smackdown,” the top link is to Dave Evans who briefly played for AC/DC, followed by a link to the bluegrass singer Dave Evans, followed by WWE Smackdown
2. Ideas for better measurement on costs , patient satisfaction , Likert scales , using mystery clients , and more.

3. Regression discontinuities really excite some people.

4. #Getyourmanuscriptout. Despite not having a standard research job, Dave has managed to produce an impressive CV. He shared his ideas on how to publish statistically insignificant results, get more out of your baseline surveys, and journals for publishing short papers.

5. How to increase your chances of your paper being included in a systematic review .

6. How to get a feel for the contexts of development through reading better fiction. Dave read or listened to 104 books last year, and has set himself the goal this year of reading a book by an author from every country across Africa. He reminds us that understanding places is more than regressions.  

7. At a time when most people describe social media as toxic, Dave taught us how to be a good citizen, a great resource, a sympathetic ear, and a discerning and appropriately skeptical consumer of books, ideas, and research on Twitter (and beyond as well). If you’re not following him, you should…

8. How to be a better person.   While some of Dave’s public goods are visible, others are less so.  He is a strong mentor to younger researchers, always has time to provide advice or bounce around ideas with colleagues and is often the first to pitch in on unglamorous tasks.  He does all this, while maintaining his prolific-ness.  As far as we can tell, his secret involves not sleeping.  

9. No blog can contain him. While not writing for us twice a month, Dave has also written additionally for other World Bank blogs including Africa Can, Let’s Talk Development, Nasikiliza, People, Spaces and Deliberation, and Education for Global Development.  He plans to blog for the CGD now, and so the good news is that we will have an extra supply of good content for our Friday links going forward. We hope also to have him back for the occasional guest post, but until then, thanks Dave, and may your writings always be full of development impact!


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Berk Özler

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Markus Goldstein

Lead Economist, Africa Gender Innovation Lab and Chief Economists Office

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