PROCESS TRACING: Oxfam’s Draft Protocol

Undated, but possibly 2012. Available as pdf

Background: “Oxfam GB has adopted a Global Performance Framework.  Among other things, this framework involves the random selection of samples of closing or sufficiently mature projects under six outcome areas each year and rigorously evaluating their performance.  These are referred to as Effectiveness Reviews.  Effectiveness Reviews carried out under the Citizen Voice and Policy Influencing thematic areas are to be informed by a research protocol based on process tracing, a qualitative research approach used by case study researchers to investigate casual inference.”

Oxfam is seeking feedback on this draft.    Please send your comments to

See also the related blog posting by Oxfam on the “AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators”website:

Rick Davies comment: While the draft protocol already includes six references on process tracing, I would recommend two more which I think are especially useful and recent:

  • Mahoney, James. “Mahoney, J. (2012). The Logic of Process Tracing Tests in the Social Sciences.  1-28.” Sociological Methods & Research XX(X) (March 2, 2012): 1–28. doi:10.1177/0049124112437709.
    • Abstract: This article discusses process tracing as a methodology for testing hypotheses in the social sciences. With process tracing tests, the analyst combines preexisting generalizations with specific observations from within a single case to make causal inferences about that case. Process tracing tests can be used to help establish that (1) an initial event or process took place, (2) a subsequent outcome also occurred, and (3) the former was a cause of the
      latter. The article focuses on the logic of different process tracing tests, including hoop tests, smoking gun tests, and straw in the wind tests. New criteria for judging the strength of these tests are developed using ideas concerning the relative importance of necessary and sufficient conditions. Similarities and differences between process tracing and the deductive nomological model of explanation are explored.



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