Evaluation of protected area management has received increased attention over the past decade, with many thousands of sites assessed. Many of the management effectiveness evaluation systems rely predominantly on expert knowledge and qualitative assessment, especially where the emphasis is on rapid assessment. Others use quantitative data or a mix of data types. We propose that decisions about the appropriateness of qualitative and quantitative data and methods for evaluating management effectiveness of protected areas can be informed by considering issues of (1) the subject matter of evaluation; (2) available resources and data; (3) scale, scope, and time frame of the evaluation; and (4) risks associated with management of the site. © Wiley Periodicals, Inc.