clear How Can Your Publication Be Evaluated?

Evaluating your publication can help you learn whether it has met its intended goals, but only if you decide at the start what you want to evaluate and how you will go about evaluating it. Evaluation helps "to answer practical questions of decision-makers and program implementors who want to know whether to continue a program, extend it to other sites, modify it, or close it down."1 You will want to be able to show that your publication does one or all of the following:

  • Reaches your target group or audience and provides important information to them.

  • Delivers your crime prevention message in a way that is organized, clear, and effective.

  • Uses a format and design that is appropriate for your intended audience.

  • Captures the interest of people in your community with exciting graphics, original writing, or creative artwork.

  • Builds your group's knowledge of the publication process—and improves writing and design skills along the way.

Because groups seldom reprint a document once it is published, evaluation should be woven into the document's development. At each stage, compare the results to the objectives and goals you initially set for your reader. Get people who are not involved in the publication process to make that comparison, too. Having reviewers from both inside and outside your group helps ensure objectivity and candor. It's also important to have your document reviewed by both experts—to make sure the information is accurate—and people with relatively little knowledge of the field—to make sure the information is clear, complete, and understandable. Building in time for this level of review is one of the best ways to "evaluate" your work.

Evaluation also can include surveying or interviewing readers after your document has been published. Find out what they liked and didn't like, whether the publication provided information that they needed, whether the layout of the document made it easy to read and understand, whether any questions they had on the subject were answered, and whether they were able to meet the goals you set for them when you developed your document.

In evaluating your publication, also consider how well it has met the following more general crime prevention goals:

  • Helps in crime reduction.

  • Reduces fear of crime.

  • Is cost effective.

  • Has a lasting impact.

  • Attracts support and resources.

  • Makes people feel safe and more positive about being members of your school or community.

Learning to evaluate the things you do is a skill you can apply to all aspects of your life."2 Good luck with your publication project and—Start writing!

1 National Crime Prevention Council, What, me evaluate? Washington, DC: National Crime Prevention Council, 1986.

2 For more information on evaluation, pick up a copy of Does Your Youth Program Work?, a Youth In Action Bulletin available at no charge from the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse, listed in the “Resources” section.

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Youth in Action Bulletin April 2000   black   Number 16