Assessing evidence: formulating and testing propositions

This tool provides a process for describing and further assessing propositions, which are proposals on best practice that have a solid evidence base but remain contested. As part of their project on 'Food System Innovation for Food Security', Rodriguez and colleagues argued that evidence can be divided into three categories: axioms, propositions and observations. These are defined as -

  • "Axioms: (close to) self-evident truth;
  • Propositions: proposals on best practice that have solid evidence base but remain contested
  • Observations: things that stand out from review of evidence but where implications are unclear".

They also outline a process for describing and further assessing propositions. Propositions are presented in a two to four page format, divided into the following sub-sections:

  • "Statement of the proposition: a single sentence statement of best practice about an aspect [of an intervention]
  • Explanation: a single paragraph expansion on the proposition
  • Evidence: summary data and references supporting the proposition derived from interviews about the projects analysed and documented material accessed
  • Example/s: narrative from case study project [intervention] illustrating the proposition
  • Consequences for the area under investigation [food security for this project]: hypothesised consequences of the proposition for [intervention] outcomes
  • Project design considerations: implications of the proposition for project design in … development interventions
  • Assumptions and their implications: assumptions about causality, assumptions about strength of evidence, assumptions about scalability and context
  • Counterviews and their implications: other experience suggesting different conclusions."

"Propositions can provide a concise and aggregated source of [intervention] information for consideration in project design and as a resource to promote discussion and learning. The aim of the propositions is to provide a platform for discussion and debate rather than a fixed set of lessons learned."

Digital poster: Rodriguez, L., Walker, D., Maru, Y., and Wanjura, W. (2013). Learning from Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa, digital poster #752 from the First Global Conference on Research Integration and Implementation held in Canberra in Australia, online and at three co-conferences (Lueneburg in Germany, The Hague in the Netherlands and Montevideo in Uruguay), 8-11 September 2013. You can access this digital poster as a powerpoint presentation or pdf with or without audio commentary http://i2sconference.digitalposter.com.au/posters-list/752.

Video: A lightning talk about this digital poster is available as Digital Poster Lightning Talks #2 by Elsum, Stewart, Walker, Neville, Haryanto and Vincent. This was presented at the First Global
Conference on Research Integration and Implementation held in Canberra in Australia, online and at three co-conferences (Lueneburg in Germany, The Hague in the Netherlands and Montevideo in Uruguay), 8-11 September 2013.

Posted: November 2013
Last modified: February 2015

About this site Updated:  20 April 2017/Responsible Officer:    Manager I2S/Page Contact:    Webmaster