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Making causal claims (ILAC Brief 26)
by John Mayne
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An ongoing challenge in evaluation is the need to make credible causal claims linking observed results to the actions of interventions. This ILAC Brief argues the need for a different perspective on causality, where interventions are seen as contributory causes to certain results.

The Brief further argues that theories of change are models showing how an intervention operates as a contributory cause. Using theories of change, approaches such as contribution analysis can be used to demonstrate that the intervention made a difference and to explain how and why.

Also included is a related powerpoint presentation on causal contribution, which was part of the Workshop on Impact, Learning and Innovation, held at the Institute of Development Studies, March 2013. The presentation focuses on intervention causality and draws attention to the notion of interventions not being a single but a contributory cause to certain results. Theories of Change are offered as a model to see the intervention as a contributing cause.