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A short Q&A with our Managing Editor, Emmanuel “Manny” Jimenez

We sat down with Emmanuel “Manny” Jimenez, Editor of the Journal of Development Effectiveness, to better understand the journal. We wanted to find out more about the kind of research the journal publishes, how the journal helps authors to make an impact with their research, and to discover where Manny sees the journal in the coming years. Here is what he had to say.

For those who may not know can you give us a bit of background to the journal?

  • The Journal was launched by 3ie to provide a platform for work that specializes in the rigorous evaluation of policies, programmes and projects in low and middle-income countries. While It publishes studies that employ a wide range of methods its focus on the evaluation of interventions differentiates it from general development journals. Also, in addition to being of interest to other researchers who conduct such work, it aims to reach practitioners such as programme implementers and policy makers. 

Can you give us a bit about your background, your work with 3ie, and your relationship with the journal?

  • I’m the Executive Director (ED) of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), a nonprofit organization to support the generation and use of rigorous evidence in policies and programs to reduce poverty in developing countries. Aside from overseeing all of 3ie’s operations, I have directly advised governments on monitoring and evaluation systems in Asia and Africa. I joined 3ie in 2015 after 30 years at the World Bank Group where he provided technical expertise and strategic leadership in a number of research and operational positions. While there I edited the journal the World Bank Research Observer for many years.  Before joining the Bank Group, I was a faculty member of the Department of Economics at the University of Western Ontario. 

How does 3ie support the journal and the research it publishes from authors?

  • Shortly after it was established ten years ago, 3ie started the journal.  Its first ED and my predecessor, Howard White, was the founding editor. Some of the papers published in the journal emanate from work supported by 3ie, including through our grantees or by our own staff. But the great majority of the papers come from outside submissions. And while I followed Howard as the editor-in-chief, and the two co-managing editors also have had 3ie affiliations, the editorial board and the expert peer reviewers are drawn almost entirely from outside 3ie. The journal is thus edited  and managed independently of 3ie as a public service.

Have there been any exciting developments with the journal recently and how have you achieved this?

  • Many scholars and practitioners find it convenient when related work is pooled together in one place and they are able to compare and contrast a body of emerging knowledge more easily. The journal has responded by putting together symposia as special issues or special sections within issues. Many of these have an introductory piece that puts the papers into context. For example, in 2018, there are two special issues – one on systematic reviews and another on the inception papers produced by the intellectual leadership team of the Center for Excellent on Development Impact and Learning (CEDIL) which was established to push the boundaries of knowledge about evaluation outward. In 2016 and 2017 there were special sections on ethics in evaluation and on targeting. We have also published the annual Howard White Lectures which have tried to bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners and have included eminent figures in the field such as Deborah Rugg, Leonard Wantchekon and Howard White himself.

 Where do you see the journal in 5 years’ time? Is there anything you want to achieve?

  • There has been considerable growth in the field of evaluation and synthesis of evidence. For example, the geometric growth in the global number of impact evaluations was highlighted in the lead article of the journal’s September 2018 issue.   This body of work will need to be curated and added to the stock of knowledge of what works and why in development. I expect the journal to play an important role in this. I’ve already noticed a rise in the number of submissions. I also see the journal playing a bigger role in being an outlet for methodological innovations such as those highlighted in the special issue in 2018 on the CEDIL work. This will include a greater diversity of methods, but all of which need to meet the journal’s quality standards. Finally, I would like to see the journal be the ‘go to’ resource for users of evidence as well as generators. While it would be  unrealistic to expect many busy decision-makers to read full papers, I would hope that the work we publish is of such relevance that they will at least skim the abstracts -- or tell their staff to do so.

How to you help your authors reach an audience beyond academia and help them make an impact with policy makers, advisors, think tanks or the public more generally?

  • We do a number of things.  One is to provide editorial guidance on making papers more accessible. Another is that we use events at 3ie and its partners that includes a broader audience to promote our content. For example, some of the journal’s papers are showcased during 3ie’s Evidence Weeks that occur during its Board meetings, in evaluation conferences that we support with partners, such as in Africa and Asia and that are well attended by policy makers. Finally, during the formulation of 3ie evidence programmes, 3ie staff guide generators and consumers of research using a variety of resources and references, including those published in the journal. 

What would you say are the big benefits for an author publishing in the Journal of Development Effectiveness?

  • First the authors will have an audience of researchers as well as practitioners who are passionate about rigorous evidence. It has an impact beyond that of standard academic journals. Second, it is an outlet for evaluations that are well done, but which may be difficult to publish in other journals such as those that do not have positive results or that are not the first to make a particular point.  (See the paper by Ravallion on this point.) The world has much to learn from these studie as well.  Third, it is a platform for high quality multi-methods approaches in evaluations and the review process reflects this.

Finally, how can authors contribute to the Journal of Development Effectiveness?

  • Authors wishing to contribute to the journal can follow the link below or for more information go to our journal homepage.

Emmanuel Jimenez,
Managing Editor,
3ie: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation