Professional Guidelines

Most professional organizations have a formal code of ethics or behavior that guides their members’ conduct. To respond to the growing need for standard and accepted evaluation principles, the American Evaluation Association (AEA) developed the Guiding Principles for Evaluators in 1994.

Summary of AEA Guiding Principles for Evaluators

Systematic Inquiry

Evaluators must conduct systematic, data-driven inquiries about the program, project, or person that is being evaluated. Evaluators should use high technical standards, explore the strengths and weaknesses of their methodology, and accurately communicate their procedures so others can understand and interpret their work.


Evaluators must possess a range of skills and abilities, including cultural competence and a diversity of knowledge, education, and training.


Evaluators must ensure the honesty and integrity of their own behavior and the entire evaluation process. This practice includes honest communication with clients, study participants, stakeholders, and the community; disclosing conflicts of interest and the source(s) of financial support for the evaluation; and authentic presentation of the evaluation methods, data, and findings.

Respect for People

Evaluators must respect the security, dignity, and self-worth of the respondents, program participants, clients, and other stakeholders with whom they interact. They should clearly understand the context in which an evaluation occurs, follow required regulations such as consent and confidentiality procedures, maximize the benefits of results, build social equity by ensuring the participants benefit from the results, and understand participant differences in culture, religion, ethnicity, and gender.

Responsibilities for General and Public Welfare

Evaluators must consider the diverse interests and values of the general public. They should also consider their stakeholders’ interests, the broader implications of their evaluation, the active dissemination of their information, balancing client needs with other interests, and the public good.

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