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Post Graduate Diploma Programme in Sustainable Rural Development

(PGD-SRD)
(A Distance Mode Programme of NIRD and UoH)

SRD-508: PROJECT: GUIDELINES FOR FORMULATION AND

EXECUTION

Course Editor

Programme Co-ordinators

R.R.Prasad

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT


Hyderabad

S. M. Ilyas
E. Haribabu

UNIVERSITY OF HYDERABAD
Hyderabad

Contributor: Dr.R.R.Prasad

COPYRIGHT 2010, PGD-SRD, NIRD & UOH

PREFACE
A project is a time-bound intervention consisting of a set of planned and interrelated
activities executed to bring about a beneficial change. It has a start and a finish, involves a
multidisciplinary team collaborating to implement activities within constraints of cost, time
and quality, and has a scope of work that is unique and subject to uncertainty. Projects link
policy initiatives at a higher level (e.g. national or sectoral) with a specific problem faced by
a target group of local-level stakeholders or by institutions or organizations. Project proposal
formulation requires the involvement of stakeholders in the identification of needs, interests,
conflicts, resources, potentials, capacities and responsibilities and the review of all issues
that might influence project implementation.
If a project idea is to be funded and implemented, its formulator must communicate it in a
clear and concise manner. To this end, a document known as a project proposal is written to
summarize the project rationale and design. This course on Guidelines for Formulation and
Execution of Projects guides project proposal formulators through each step of project (or
pre-project) identification, formulation, and execution. This course has three Blocks
comprising 10 Units. The course material of the SRD 508 is divided into following Blocks
and each Bock has 3-4 units. Each Block also contains Introduction to the Block. The
scheme of the SRD 508 in terms of its distribution and Blocks and Units is given below.
BLOCK 1: Research & Action Research
Research and development can no longer be the exclusive domain of scientists. To find
sustainable solutions to development problems, a wider range of actors must be involved. It
is crucial, for example, that local stakeholders provide input to the process. In this context,
developing a good understanding of the various issues related to undertaking qualitative
research, methods for qualitative data collection and action research assumes added
significance. Therefore, in the Block 1, we have provided the following three units.
Unit 1: Qualitative Research
Unit 2: Methods of Qualitative Data Collection
Unit 3: Action Research
BLOCK 2: Guidelines for Preparation of Concept Notes and Research Proposal
The main purpose of this Block is to inspire and guide aspiring and new practitioners of
Research and Development to learn, reflect and constantly refine the way they work. The
primary objective of this Block is to enable the students to understand the importance writing
a concept note, and also how to write a good research proposal. This Block also helps the
students in understanding the common mistakes which they might make while preparing
research proposals.
Most funding organizations first requires a concept note before you submit a research
proposal because this should help to ensure that your idea for the project is a good one and
the way you want to go about the project is feasible. However, you will have to spend time

carefully thinking and planning the research, as the planning of the research project is very
important. How well you plan the research will largely influence how good the actual
research project is. The planning is perhaps the most critical stage of the research project.
This should reduce the risk of you preparing a full proposal that is rejected by the funding
organizations.
Unit 1: Guidelines for Preparing Concept Notes
Unit 2: How to Design Your Research Proposal
Unit 3: Common Mistakes and Problems in Research Proposal Writing
BLOCK 3: Indicators, Case Studies, and Evaluation of Sustainable Rural
Development
Improving the quality of life for the people of this country is perhaps the most important duty
of Government. We set measurable indicators across the whole range of issues that matter
most to people, and are likely to matter to future generations too. That means measuring
how we perform on the big, important things such as peoples health, the state of the
economy, employment, transport, crime and the environment. The indicators show how in
some areas things are already improving. Additionally, we are also required to conduct case
studies to capture various successful interventions in sustainable development. Thus we
need to know the sustainability indicators, basics of developing case studies, format for
writing case study reports, and how to carry out the evaluation of rural development
schemes.
Therefore, in the Block 3, we have provided the following four units.
Unit 1: Indicators of Sustainable Development
Unit 2: Basics of Developing Case Studies
Unit 3: Format for Writing Case Study Report
Unit 4: How to Evaluate Rural Development Schemes
I have no doubt that course materials contained in the SRD 508 will be immensely helpful to
the students in formulation of and execution of sustainable rural development projects.
R.R. Prasad
Course Editor

CONTENTS
BLOCK 1: Research & Action Research
Unit 1: Qualitative Research
Unit 2: Methods of Qualitative Data Collection
Unit 3: Action Research

BLOCK 2: Guidelines for Preparation of Concept Notes and


Research Proposal
Unit 1: Guidelines for Preparing Concept Notes
Unit 2: How to Design Your Research Proposal
Unit 3: Common Mistakes and Problems in Research Proposal Writing

BLOCK 3: Indicators, Case Studies, and Evaluation of


Sustainable Rural Development
Unit 1: Indicators of Sustainable Development
Unit 2: Basics of Developing Case Studies
Unit 3: Format for Writing Case Study Report
Unit 4: How to Evaluate Rural Development Schemes

BLOCK 1: Research & Action Research


Introduction
Research and development can no longer be the exclusive domain of scientists. To find sustainable
solutions to development problems, a wider range of actors must be involved. It is crucial, for
example, that local stakeholders provide input to the process. In this context, developing a good
understanding of the various issues related to undertaking qualitative research, methods for
qualitative data collection and action research assumes added significance. Therefore, in the Block 1,
we have provided the following three units.
Unit 1: Qualitative Research
Unit 2: Methods of Qualitative Data Collection
Unit 3: Action Research
This three-unit Block shall enable you to appreciate the various critical issues that are associated with
undertaking qualitative research, methods for qualitative data collection, and action research.
Unit 1 introduces the fundamental elements of a qualitative approach to research, to help you
understand and become proficient in the qualitative methods discussed in subsequent modules. We
recommend that you consult the suggested readings at the end of the module for more in-depth
treatment of the foundations of qualitative research.
Unit 2 describes and compares the most common qualitative methods employed in project
evaluations. These include observations, indepth interviews, and focus groups. We also cover
briefly some other less frequently used qualitative techniques. Advantages and disadvantages are
summarized. For those readers interested in learning more about qualitative data collection methods,
a list of recommended readings is provided.
Unit 3 deals with the action research or participatory action research which is a recognized form of
experimental research that focuses on the effects of the researcher's direct actions of practice within a
participatory community with the goal of improving the performance quality of the community or an
area of concern.

Unit - 1: QUALITATIVE RESEARCH


Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. What is Qualitative Research?
3.1 What can we learn from qualitative research?
3.2 What are some qualitative research methods?
4. Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Research
5. Sampling in Qualitative Research
6. Recruitment in Qualitative Research
7. Ethical Guidelines in Qualitative Research
8. Summing up
9. Keywords
10. Know your Progress
11. Further Reading / References
12. Model Answers

1. Introduction
This Unit introduces the fundamental elements of a qualitative approach to research, to help
you understand and become proficient in the qualitative methods discussed in subsequent modules.
We recommend that you also consult the suggested readings at the end of the Unit for more in-depth
treatment of the foundations of qualitative research.

2. Objectives
After studying this Unit, you should be able to understand:
What is qualitative research?
Compare qualitative and quantitative research
Role of sampling method in qualitative research
Role of recruitment in qualitative research
Ethical guidelines in qualitative research

3. What is Qualitative Research?


Qualitative research is a type of scientific research. In general terms, scientific research
consists of an investigation that:

seeks answers to a question


systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to answer the question

collects evidence
produces findings that were not determined in advance
produces findings that are applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study

Qualitative research shares these characteristics. Additionally, it seeks to understand a given


research problem or topic from the perspectives of the local population it involves. Qualitative
research is especially effective in obtaining culturally specific information about the values, opinions,
behaviors, and social contexts of particular populations.
3.1 What can we learn from qualitative research?
The strength of qualitative research lies in its ability to provide complex textual descriptions
of how people experience a given research issue. It provides information about the human side of
an issue i.e. the often contradictory behaviours, beliefs, opinions, emotions, and relationships of
individuals. Qualitative methods are also effective in identifying intangible factors, such as social
norms, socio-economic status, gender roles, ethnicity, and religion, whose role in the research issue
may not be readily apparent. When used along with quantitative methods, qualitative research can
help us to interpret and better understand the complex reality of a given situation and the implications
of quantitative data.
Although findings from qualitative data can often be extended to people with characteristics
similar to those in the study population, gaining a rich and complex understanding of a specific social
context or phenomenon typically takes precedence over eliciting data that can be generalised to other
geographical areas or populations. In this sense, qualitative research differs slightly from scientific
research in general.
3.2 What are some qualitative research methods?
The three most common qualitative methods are: participant observation, in-depth interviews,
and focus groups. Each method is particularly suited for obtaining a specific type of data.

Participant observation is appropriate for collecting data on naturally occurring behaviours in


their usual contexts.
In-depth interviews are optimal for collecting data on individuals personal histories,
perspectives, and experiences, particularly when sensitive topics are being explored.
Focus groups are effective in eliciting data on the cultural norms of a group and in generating
broad overviews of issues of concern to the cultural groups or subgroups represented.

The types of data these three methods generate are field notes, audio (and sometimes video)
recordings, and transcripts.

4. Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Research


What are the basic differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods?
Quantitative and qualitative research methods differ primarily in:

their analytical objectives


the types of questions they pose
the types of data collection instruments they use
the forms of data they produce
the degree of flexibility built into study design

Qualitative methods are typically more flexible i.e. they allow greater spontaneity and
adaptation of the interaction between the researcher and the study participant. For example,
qualitative methods ask mostly open-ended questions that are not necessarily worded in exactly the
same way with each participant. With open-ended questions, participants are free to respond in their
own words, and these responses tend to be more complex than simply yes or no. In addition, with
qualitative methods, the relationship between the researcher and the participant is often less formal
than in quantitative research. Participants have the opportunity to respond more elaborately and in
greater detail than is typically the case with quantitative methods. In turn, researchers have the
opportunity to respond immediately to what participants say by tailoring subsequent questions to
information the participant has provided.
It is important to note, however, that there is a range of flexibility among methods used in
both quantitative and qualitative research and that flexibility is not an indication of how scientifically
rigorous a method is. Rather, the degree of flexibility reflects the kind of understanding of the
problem that is being pursued using the method.

5. Sampling in Qualitative Research


Even if it were possible, it is not necessary to collect data from everyone in a community in
order to get valid findings. In qualitative research, only a sample (i.e. a subset) of a population is
selected for any given study. The studys research objectives and the characteristics of the study
population (such as size and diversity) determine which and how many people to select. In this
section, we briefly describe three of the most common sampling methods used in qualitative research:
purposive sampling, quota sampling, and snowball sampling. As data collectors, you will not be
responsible for selecting the sampling method. The explanations below are meant to help you
understand the reasons for using each method.
5.1 What is purposive sampling?
Purposive sampling, one of the most common sampling strategies, groups participants
according to pre-selected criteria relevant to a particular research question (for example, HIV-positive
women in Capital City). Sample sizes, which may or may not be fixed prior to data collection, depend
on the resources and time available, as well as the studys objectives. Purposive sample sizes are
often determined on the basis of theoretical saturation (the point in data collection when new data no

longer bring additional insights to the research questions). Purposive sampling is therefore most
successful when data review and analysis are done in conjunction with data collection.

5.2 What is quota sampling?


Quota sampling, sometimes considered a type of purposive sampling, is also common. In
quota sampling, we decide while designing the study how many people with which characteristics to
include as participants. Characteristics might include age, place of residence, gender, class,
profession, marital status, use of a particular contraceptive method, HIV status, etc. The criteria we
choose allow us to focus on people we think would be most likely to experience, know about, or have
insights into the research topic. Then we go into the community and using recruitment strategies
appropriate to the location, culture, and study population find people who fit these criteria, until we
meet the prescribed quotas.
5.3 How do purposive and quota sampling differ?
Purposive and quota sampling are similar in that they both seek to identify participants based
on selected criteria. However, quota sampling is more specific with respect to sizes and proportions
of subsamples, with subgroups chosen to reflect corresponding proportions in the population. If, for
example, gender is a variable of interest in how people experience HIV infection, a quota sample
would seek an equal balance of HIV-positive men and HIV-positive women in a given city, assuming
a 1:1 gender ratio in the population. Studies employ purposive rather than quota sampling when the
number of participants is more of a target than a steadfast requirement that is, an approximate rather
than a strict quota.
5.4 What is snowball sampling?
A third type of sampling, snowballing also known as chain referral sampling is considered
a type of purposive sampling. In this method, participants or informants with whom contact has
already been made use their social networks to refer the researcher to other people who could
potentially participate in or contribute to the study. Snowball sampling is often used to find and
recruit hidden populations, i.e. groups not easily accessible to researchers through other sampling
strategies.

6. Recruitment in Qualitative Research


A recruitment strategy is a project-specific plan for identifying and enrolling people to
participate in a research study. The plan should specify criteria for screening potential participants,
the number of people to be recruited, the location, and the approach to be used. In this section, we
address some of the questions that may come up during the recruitment of participants.

6.1 How are recruitment strategies decided?


Ideally, the local principal investigator and qualitative research team members work together,
in close consultation with community leaders and gatekeepers (that is, community members in
positions of official or unofficial authority), to develop a plan to identify and recruit potential
participants for each site. Recruitment strategies are determined by the type and number of data
collection activities in the study and by the characteristics of the study population. They are typically
flexible and can be modified if new topics, research questions, or subpopulations emerge as important
to the study, or if initial strategies do not result in the desired number of recruits. The criteria for
selection can also be changed if certain data collection activities or subpopulations of people prove
not to be useful in answering the research questions, as discussed in greater detail below.

7. Ethical Guidelines in Qualitative Research


This Section briefly summarises ethical issues relevant to qualitative research. It is intended to
provide a context for discussion in subsequent modules of procedures for safeguarding research
participants interests. Qualitative researchers, like anyone conducting research with people, should
undergo formal research ethics training. The material presented here is not a substitute for training on
research ethics.
Research ethics deals primarily with the interaction between researchers and the people they
study. Professional ethics deals with additional issues such as collaborative relationships among
researchers, mentoring relationships, intellectual property, fabrication of data, and plagiarism, among
others. While we do not explicitly discuss professional ethics here, they are obviously as important
for qualitative research as for any other endeavor. Most professional organisations, such as the
American Anthropological Association, the Society for Applied Anthropology, the American
Sociological Association, and the American Public Health Association, have developed broad
statements of professional ethics that are easily accessible via the Internet.
7.1 Why is research ethics important in qualitative research?
The history and development of international research ethics guidance is strongly reflective of
abuses and mistakes made in the course of biomedical research. This has led some qualitative
researchers to conclude that their research is unlikely to benefit from such guidance or even that they
are not at risk of perpetrating abuses or making mistakes of real consequence for the people they
study. Conversely, biomedical and public health researchers who use qualitative approaches without
having the benefit of formal training in the social sciences may attempt to rigidly enforce bioethics
practices without considering whether they are appropriate for qualitative research. Between these
two extremes lies a balanced approach founded on established principles for ethical research that are
appropriately interpreted for and applied to the qualitative research context.
Agreed-upon standards for research ethics help ensure that as researchers we explicitly
consider the needs and concerns of the people we study, that appropriate oversight for the conduct of
research takes place, and that a basis for trust is established between researchers and study
participants. Whenever we conduct research on people, the well-being of research participants must
be our top priority. The research question is always of secondary importance. This means that if a

choice must be made between doing harm to a participant and doing harm to the research, it is the
research that is sacrificed. Fortunately, choices of that magnitude rarely need to be made in
qualitative research! But the principle must not be dismissed as irrelevant, or we can find ourselves
making decisions that eventually bring us to the point where our work threatens to disrupt the lives of
the people we are researching.

7.2 What are the fundamental research ethics principles?


Three core principles form the universally accepted basis for research ethics.
Respect for persons requires a commitment to ensuring the autonomy of research participants, and,
where autonomy may be diminished, to protect people from exploitation of their vulnerability. The
dignity of all research participants must be respected. Adherence to this principle ensures that people
will not be used simply as a means to achieve research objectives.
Beneficence requires a commitment to minimizing the risks associated with research, including
psychological and social risks, and maximizing the benefits that accrue to research participants.
Researchers must articulate specific ways this will be achieved.
Justice requires a commitment to ensuring a fair distribution of the risks and benefits resulting from
research. Those who take on the burdens of research participation should share in the benefits of the
knowledge gained. Or, to put it another way, the people who are expected to benefit from the
knowledge should be the ones who are asked to participate.
In addition to these established principles, some bioethicists have suggested that a fourth
principle, respect for communities, should be added. Respect for communities confers on the
researcher an obligation to respect the values and interests of the community in research and,
wherever possible, to protect the community from harm. We believe that this principle is, in fact,
fundamental for research when community-wide knowledge, values, and relationships are critical to
research success and may in turn be affected by the research process or its outcomes.

8. Summing up
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry appropriated in many different academic
disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts.
Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons
that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making,
not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed, rather than
large samples. Qualitative methods produce information only on the particular cases studied, and any
more general conclusions are only hypotheses.

9. Keywords
Focus Group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their
perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea,

or packaging.[1] Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk
with other group members.
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry appropriated in many different academic disciplines,
traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative
researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern
such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making, not just
what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed, rather than large
samples.
Participant observation is a type of research strategy. It is a widely used methodology in many
disciplines, particularly, cultural anthropology, but also sociology, communication studies, and social
psychology. Its aim is to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals (such
as a religious, occupational, or sub cultural group, or a particular community) and their practices
through an intensive involvement with people in their natural environment, usually over an extended
period of time.
Program evaluation is a systematic method for collecting, analyzing, and using information to
answer basic questions about projects, policies and programs.

10. Know your Progress


1.

What is qualitative research?

2.

What are some qualitative research methods?

3.

What are the basic differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods?

4.

What are the fundamental research ethics principles?

11. Further Reading / References


Bernard HR( 1995). Research Methods in Anthropology, Second Edition. Sage Publications, London.
Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (eds.)(2000 ). Handbook of Qualitative Research. Sage Publications.
London.
Marshall PA.( 2003). Human subjects protections, institutional review boards, and cultural
anthropological research. Anthropol Q,76(2):269-85.
National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research.
The Belmont Report. Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of HumanSubjects of
Research. Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health, 1979. Available:
http://ohsr.od.nih.gov/guidelines/belmont.html.

Nkwi P, Nyamongo I, Ryan G.( 2001). Field Research into Social Issues: Methodological
Guidelines. UNESCO, Washington, DC:
Pelto P, Pelto G.( 1997) Studying knowledge, culture and behavior in applied medical anthropology.
Med Anthropol Q;11(2):147-63.
Pope C, Mays N. (2000). Qualitative Research in Health Care. BMJ Books. London.
Schensul, J, LeCompte M. (1999).Ethnographers Toolkit. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
For additional information on this topic, refer to Chapter 1: Invitation to Explore, Chapter 3:
Designing the Study, Chapter 4: Collecting Qualitative Data: The Science and the Art, Chapter 5:
Logistics in the Field, and Appendix 2: Examples of Oral Consent Forms in these companion guides:
Qualitative Methods in Public Health: A Field Guide for Applied Research
Qualitative Methods: A Field Guide for Applied Research in Sexual and Reproductive Health

12. Model Answers


1.
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry appropriated in many different academic
disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts.[1]
Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons
that govern such behavior. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision making,
not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more often needed, rather than
large samples.
2.
The three most common qualitative methods are participant observation, in-depth interviews,
and focus groups. Each method is particularly suited for obtaining a specific type of data.

Participant observation is appropriate for collecting data on naturally occurring behaviors in


their usual contexts.
In-depth interviews are optimal for collecting data on individuals personal histories,
perspectives, and experiences, particularly when sensitive topics are being explored.
Focus groups are effective in eliciting data on the cultural norms of a group and in generating
broad overviews of issues of concern to the cultural groups or subgroups represented.

Quantitative and qualitative research methods differ primarily in:

3.

their analytical objectives


the types of questions they pose
the types of data collection instruments they use
the forms of data they produce
the degree of flexibility built into study design

Qualitative methods are typically more flexible that is, they allow greater spontaneity and
adaptation of the interaction between the researcher and the study participant.
Perhaps the most traditional division in the way qualitative and quantitative research have
been used in the social sciences is for qualitative methods to be used for exploratory (i.e., hypothesisgenerating) purposes or explaining puzzling quantitative results, while quantitative methods are used
to test hypotheses. This is because establishing content validity - do measures measure what a
researcher thinks they measure? - is seen as one of the strengths of qualitative research. While
quantitative methods are seen as providing more representative, reliable and precise measures through
focused hypotheses, measurement tools and applied mathematics. By contrast, qualitative data is
usually difficult to graph or display in mathematical terms.

4.

Three core principles form the universally accepted basis for research ethics.

Respect for persons requires a commitment to ensuring the autonomy of research participants, and,
where autonomy may be diminished, to protect people from exploitation of their vulnerability. The
dignity of all research participants must be respected. Adherence to this principle ensures that people
will not be used simply as a means to achieve research objectives.
Beneficence requires a commitment to minimizing the risks associated with research, including
psychological and social risks, and maximizing the benefits that accrue to research participants.
Researchers must articulate specific ways this will be achieved.
Justice requires a commitment to ensuring a fair distribution of the risks and benefits resulting from
research. Those who take on the burdens of research participation should share in the benefits of the
knowledge gained. Or, to put it another way, the people who are expected to benefit from the
knowledge should be the ones who are asked to participate.
In addition to these established principles, some bio-ethicists have suggested that a fourth principle,
respect for communities, should be added.

UNIT-2: METHODS OF
QUALITATIVE DATA COLLECTION
Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. Observation Techniques
3.1 Recording observational data
3.2 The role of the observer
4. Interviews
4.1 In-depth interviews
4.2 When to use in depth interviews
4.3 Recording interview data
5.Focus Groups
5.1 When to use focus groups
5.2 Developing a focus group
5.3 Recording focus group data
6. Summing up
7. Keywords
8. Know your Progress
9. Further Reading / References
10. Model Answers

1. Introduction
There are two broad categories of data collection methods: qualitative and quantitative.
Qualitative research is a method of inquiry appropriated in many different academic disciplines,
traditionally in the social sciences, but also in market research and further contexts. Qualitative data is
extremely varied in nature. It includes virtually any information that can be captured that is not
numerical in nature. Sometimes referred to as touchy-feely research, qualitative data collection
requires researchers to interpret the information gathered, most often without the benefit of statistical
support. If the researcher is well trained in interpreting respondents comments and activities, this
form of research can offer very good information.
Qualitative research is grounded in the assumption that individuals construct social reality in
the form of meanings and interpretations, and that these constructions tend to be transitory and
situational. Qualitative research often categorizes data into patterns as the primary basis for
organizing and reporting results. Researchers use qualitative methods to capture what people say
about their meanings and interpretations. Qualitative research typically involves qualitative data, i.e.,
data obtained through methods such interviews, on-site observations, and focus groups that is in
narrative rather than numerical form. Such data are analysed by looking for themes and patterns. It
involves reading, rereading, and exploring the data. How the data are gathered will greatly affect the
ease of analysis and utility of findings.

In this Unit, we describe and compare the most common qualitative methods employed in
project evaluations. These include observations, indepth interviews, and focus groups. We also
cover briefly some other less frequently used qualitative techniques. Advantages and disadvantages
are summarized. For those readers interested in learning more about qualitative data collection
methods, a list of recommended readings is provided.

2. Objectives
After reading this Unit, you will be able to:

Define and explain qualitative research


What are some qualitative research methods?
How to conduct indepth interviews?
What is participant observation?
What is a focus group?

3. Observation Techniques
Observational techniques are methods by which an individual or individuals gather firsthand
data on programs, processes, or behaviors being studied. They provide evaluators with an opportunity
to collect data on a wide range of behaviors, to capture a great variety of interactions, and to openly
explore the evaluation topic. By directly observing operations and activities, the evaluator can
develop a holistic perspective, i.e., an understanding of the context within which the project operates.
This may be especially important where it is not the event that is of interest, but rather how that event
may fit into, or be impacted by, a sequence of events. Observational approaches also allow the
evaluator to learn about things the participants or staff may be unaware of or that they are unwilling
or unable to discuss in an interview or focus group.
When to use observations? Observations can be useful during both the formative and
summative phases of evaluation. For example, during the formative phase, observations can be useful
in determining whether or not the project is being delivered and operated as planned. In the
hypothetical project, observations could be used to describe the faculty development sessions,
examining the extent to which participants understand the concepts, ask the right questions, and are
engaged in appropriate interactions. Such formative observations could also provide valuable insights
into the teaching styles of the presenters and how they are covering the material.

Advantages and disadvantages of observations


Advantages
Disadvantages
Provide direct information about
Expensive and time consuming
behavior of individuals and groups
Need well-qualified, highly trained
observers; may need to be content
Permit evaluator to enter into and
understand situation/context
experts
Provide good opportunities for
May affect behavior of participants
identifying unanticipated outcomes
Selective perception of observer may
distort data
Exist in natural, unstructured, and
flexible setting
Investigator has little control over
situation
Behavior or set of behaviors observed
may be atypical

Observations during the summative phase of evaluation can be used to determine whether or
not the project is successful. The technique would be especially useful in directly examining teaching
methods employed by the faculty in their own classes after program participation. Exhibits 3 and 4
display the advantages and disadvantages of observations as a data collection tool and some common
types of data that are readily collected by observation.
Readers familiar with survey techniques may justifiably point out that surveys can address
these same questions and do so in a less costly fashion. Critics of surveys find them suspect because
of their reliance on self-report, which may not provide an accurate picture of what is happening
because of the tendency, intentional or not, to try to give the "right answer." Surveys also cannot tap
into the contextual element. Proponents of surveys counter that properly constructed surveys with
built in checks and balances can overcome these problems and provide highly credible data. This
frequently debated issue is best decided on a case-by-case basis.

3.1 Recording Observational Data


Observations are carried out using a carefully developed set of steps and instruments. The
observer is more than just an onlooker, but rather comes to the scene with a set of target concepts,
definitions, and criteria for describing events. While in some studies observers may simply record and
describe, in the majority of evaluations, their descriptions are, or eventually will be, judged against a
continuum of expectations.
Observations usually are guided by a structured protocol. The protocol can take a variety of forms,
ranging from the request for a narrative describing events seen to a checklist or a rating scale of
specific behaviors/activities that address the evaluation question of interest. The use of a protocol
helps assure that all observers are gathering the pertinent information and, with appropriate training,
applying the same criteria in the evaluation. For example, if, as described earlier, an observational
approach is selected to gather data on the faculty training sessions, the instrument developed would
explicitly guide the observer to examine the kinds of activities in which participants were interacting,
the role(s) of the trainers and the participants, the types of materials provided and used, the
opportunity for hands-on interaction, etc.

Types of information for which observations are a good source


The setting - The physical environment within which the project takes place.
The human, social environment - The ways in which all actors (staff, participants,
others) interact and behave toward each other.
Project implementation activities - What goes on in the life of the project? What
do various actors (staff, participants, others) actually do? How are resources
allocated?
The native language of the program - Different organizations and agencies have
their own language or jargon to describe the problems they deal with in their work;
capturing the precise language of all participants is an important way to record how
staff and participants understand their experiences.
Nonverbal communication - Nonverbal cues about what is happening in the
project: on the way all participants dress, express opinions, physically space
themselves during discussions, and arrange themselves in their physical setting.
Notable non-occurrences - Determining what is not occurring although the
expectation is that it should be occurring as planned by the project team, or noting
the absence of some particular activity/factor that is noteworthy and would serve as
added information.
The protocol goes beyond a recording of events, i.e., use of identified materials, and provides
an overall context for the data. The protocol should prompt the observer to

Describe the setting of program delivery, i.e., where the observation took place and what the
physical setting was like;
Identify the people who participated in those activities, i.e., characteristics of those who were
present;
Describe the content of the intervention, i.e., actual activities and messages that were
delivered;
Document the interactions between implementation staff and project participants;
Describe and assess the quality of the delivery of the intervention; and
Be alert to unanticipated events that might require refocusing one or more evaluation
questions.

Field notes are frequently used to provide more indepth background or to help the observer
remember salient events if a form is not completed at the time of observation. Field notes contain the
description of what has been observed. The descriptions must be factual, accurate, and thorough
without being judgmental and cluttered by trivia. The date and time of the observation should be
recorded, and everything that the observer believes to be worth noting should be included. No
information should be trusted to future recall.

The use of technological tools, such as battery-operated tape recorder or dictaphone, laptop
computer, camera and video camera, can make the collection of field notes more efficient and the
notes themselves more comprehensive. Informed consent must be obtained from participants before
any observational data are gathered.
3.2 The role of the observer
There are various methods for gathering observational data, depending on the nature of a
given project. The most fundamental distinction between various observational strategies concerns
the extent to which the observer will be a participant in the setting being studied. The extent of
participation is a continuum that varies from complete involvement in the setting as a full participant
to complete separation from the setting as an outside observer or spectator. The participant observer
is fully engaged in experiencing the project setting while at the same time trying to understand that
setting through personal experience, observations, and interactions and discussions with other
participants. The outside observer stands apart from the setting, attempts to be nonintrusive, and
assumes the role of a "fly-on-the-wall." The extent to which full participation is possible and
desirable will depend on the nature of the project and its participants, the political and social context,
the nature of the evaluation questions being asked, and the resources available. "The ideal is to
negotiate and adopt that degree of participation that will yield the most meaningful data about the
program given the characteristics of the participants, the nature of staff-participant interactions, and
the sociopolitical context of the program" (Patton, 1990).
In some cases it may be beneficial to have two people observing at the same time. This can
increase the quality of the data by providing a larger volume of data and by decreasing the influence
of observer bias. However, in addition to the added cost, the presence of two observers may create an
environment threatening to those being observed and cause them to change their behavior. Studies
using observation typically employ intensive training experiences to make sure that the observer or
observers know what to look for and can, to the extent possible, operate in an unbiased manner. In
long or complicated studies, it is useful to check on an observers performance periodically to make
sure that accuracy is being maintained. The issue of training is a critical one and may make the
difference between a defensible study and what can be challenged as "one persons perspective."
A special issue with regard to observations relates to the amount of observation needed. While
in participant observation this may be a moot point (except with regard to data recording), when an
outside observer is used, the question of "how much" becomes very important. While most people
agree that one observation (a single hour of a training session or one class period of instruction) is not
enough, there is no hard and fast rule regarding how many samples need to be drawn. General tips to
consider are to avoid atypical situations, carry out observations more than one time, and (where
possible and relevant) spread the observations out over time.
Participant observation is often difficult to incorporate in evaluations; therefore, the use of
outside observers is far more common. In the hypothetical project, observations might be scheduled
for all training sessions and for a sample of classrooms, including some where faculty members who
participated in training were teaching and some staffed by teachers who had not participated in the
training.

Issues of privacy and access: Observational techniques are perhaps the most privacy-threatening
data collection technique for staff and, to a lesser extent, participants. Staff fear that the data may be
included in their performance evaluations and may have effects on their careers. Participants may also
feel uncomfortable assuming that they are being judged. Evaluators need to assure everyone that
evaluations of performance are not the purpose of the effort, and that no such reports will result from
the observations. Additionally, because most educational settings are subject to a constant flow of
observers from various organizations, there is often great reluctance to grant access to additional
observers. Much effort may be needed to assure project staff and participants that they will not be
adversely affected by the evaluators work and to negotiate observer access to specific sites.

4. Interviews
Interviews provide very different data from observations: they allow the evaluation team to
capture the perspectives of project participants, staff, and others associated with the project. In the
hypothetical example, interviews with project staff can provide information on the early stages of the
implementation and problems encountered. The use of interviews as a data collection method begins
with the assumption that the participants perspectives are meaningful, knowable, and able to be
made explicit, and that their perspectives affect the success of the project. An interview, rather than a
paper and pencil survey, is selected when interpersonal contact is important and when opportunities
for follow up of interesting comments are desired.
Two types of interviews are used in evaluation research: structured interviews, in which a
carefully worded questionnaire is administered; and indepth interviews, in which the interviewer does
not follow a rigid form. In the former, the emphasis is on obtaining answers to carefully phrased
questions. Interviewers are trained to deviate only minimally from the question wording to ensure
uniformity of interview administration. In the latter, however, the interviewers seek to encourage free
and open responses, and there may be a tradeoff between comprehensive coverage of topics and
indepth exploration of a more limited set of questions. Indepth interviews also encourage capturing of
respondents perceptions in their own words, a very desirable strategy in qualitative data collection.
This allows the evaluator to present the meaningfulness of the experience from the respondents
perspective. Indepth interviews are conducted with individuals or with a small group of individuals.
4.1 In-depth interviews: An in-depth interview is a dialogue between a skilled interviewer and an
interviewee. Its goal is to elicit rich, detailed material that can be used in analysis (Lofland and
Lofland, 1995). Such interviews are best conducted face to face, although in some situations
telephone interviewing can be successful.
Indepth interviews are characterized by extensive probing and open-ended questions.
Typically, the project evaluator prepares an interview guide that includes a list of questions or issues
that are to be explored and suggested probes for following up on key topics. The guide helps the
interviewer pace the interview and make interviewing more systematic and comprehensive. Lofland
and Lofland (1995) provide guidelines for preparing interview guides, doing the interview with the
guide, and writing up the interview. Appendix B to this chapter contains an example of the types of
interview questions that could be asked during the hypothetical study.

The dynamics of interviewing are similar to a guided conversation. The interviewer becomes
an attentive listener who shapes the process into a familiar and comfortable form of social
engagement - a conversation - and the quality of the information obtained is largely dependent on the
interviewers skills and personality (Patton, 1990). In contrast to a good conversation, however, an
indepth interview is not intended to be a two-way form of communication and sharing. The key to
being a good interviewer is being a good listener and questioner. Tempting as it may be, it is not the
role of the interviewer to put forth his or her opinions, perceptions, or feelings. Interviewers should be
trained individuals who are sensitive, empathetic, and able to establish a non-threatening environment
in which participants feel comfortable. They should be selected during a process that weighs personal
characteristics that will make them acceptable to the individuals being interviewed; clearly, age, sex,
profession, race/ethnicity, and appearance may be key characteristics. Thorough training, including
familiarization with the project and its goals, is important. Poor interviewing skills, poor phrasing of
questions, or inadequate knowledge of the subjects culture or frame of reference may result in a
collection that obtains little useful data.
4.2 When to use in-depth interviews: In-depth interviews can be used at any stage of the
evaluation process. They are especially useful in answering questions such as those suggested by
Patton (1990):

What does the program look and feel like to the participants? To other stakeholders?
What are the experiences of program participants?
What do stakeholders know about the project?
What thoughts do stakeholders knowledgeable about the program have concerning program
operations, processes, and outcomes?
What are participants and stakeholders expectations?
What features of the project are most salient to the participants?
What changes do participants perceive in themselves as a result of their involvement in the
project?

Specific circumstances for which indepth interviews are particularly appropriate include

complex subject matter;


detailed information sought;
busy, high-status respondents; and
highly sensitive subject matter.
Advantages and disadvantages of in-depth interviews
Advantages
Disadvantages
Usually yield richest data, details, new Expensive and time-consuming
insights
Need well-qualified, highly trained
interviewers
Permit face-to-face contact with
respondents
Interviewee may distort information
through recall error, selective
Provide opportunity to explore topics in
depth
perceptions, desire to please
interviewer
Afford ability to experience the
affective as well as cognitive aspects Flexibility can result in inconsistencies

of responses
Allow interviewer to explain or help
clarify questions, increasing the
likelihood of useful responses
Allow interviewer to be flexible in
administering interview to particular
individuals or circumstances

across interviews
Volume of information too large; may
be difficult to transcribe and reduce
data

When ind-epth interviews are being considered as a data collection technique, it is important to keep
several potential pitfalls or problems in mind.

There may be substantial variation in the interview setting. Interviews generally take place in
a wide range of settings. This limits the interviewers control over the environment. The
interviewer may have to contend with disruptions and other problems that may inhibit the
acquisition of information and limit the comparability of interviews.

There may be a large gap between the respondents knowledge and that of the interviewer.
Interviews are often conducted with knowledgeable respondents, yet administered by less
knowledgeable interviewers or by interviewers not completely familiar with the pertinent
social, political, or cultural context. Therefore, some of the responses may not be correctly
understood or reported. The solution may be not only to employ highly trained and
knowledgeable staff, but also to use interviewers with special skills for specific types of
respondents (for example, same status interviewers for high-level administrators or
community leaders). It may also be most expedient for the project director or senior
evaluation staff to conduct such interviews, if this can be done without introducing or
appearing to introduce bias.
Considerations in conducting in-depth interviews
and focus groups
Factors to consider in determining the setting for interviews (both
individual and group) include the following:

Select a setting that provides privacy for participants.


Select a location where there are no distractions and it is easy
to hear respondents speak.
Select a comfortable location.
Select a non-threatening environment.
Select a location that is easily accessible for respondents.
Select a facility equipped for audio or video recording.
Stop telephone or visitor interruptions to respondents
interviewed in their office or homes.
Provide seating arrangements that encourage involvement and
interaction.

4.3 Recording interview data: Interview data can be recorded on tape (with the permission of the
participants) and/or summarized in notes. As with observations, detailed recording is a necessary
component of interviews since it forms the basis for analyzing the data. All methods, but especially
the second and third, require carefully crafted interview guides with ample space available for
recording the interviewees responses. Three procedures for recording the data are presented below.
In the first approach, the interviewer (or in some cases the transcriber) listens to the tapes and
writes a verbatim account of everything that was said. Transcription of the raw data includes wordfor-word quotations of the participants responses as well as the interviewers descriptions of
participants characteristics, enthusiasm, body language, and overall mood during the interview.
Notes from the interview can be used to identify speakers or to recall comments that are garbled or
unclear on the tape. This approach is recommended when the necessary financial and human
resources are available, when the transcriptions can be produced in a reasonable amount of time,
when the focus of the interview is to make detailed comparisons, or when respondents own words
and phrasing are needed. The major advantages of this transcription method are its completeness and
the opportunity it affords for the interviewer to remain attentive and focused during the interview.
The major disadvantages are the amount of time and resources needed to produce complete
transcriptions and the inhibitory impact tape recording has on some respondents. If this technique is
selected, it is essential that the participants have been informed that their answers are being recorded,
that they are assured confidentiality, and that their permission has been obtained.
A second possible procedure for recording interviews draws less on the word-by-word record
and more on the notes taken by the interviewer or assigned note taker. This method is called "note
expansion." As soon as possible after the interview, the interviewer listens to the tape to clarify
certain issues and to confirm that all the main points have been included in the notes. This approach is
recommended when resources are scarce, when the results must be produced in a short period of time,
and when the purpose of the interview is to get rapid feedback from members of the target
population. The note expansion approach saves time and retains all the essential points of the
discussion. In addition to the drawbacks pointed out above, a disadvantage is that the interviewer may
be more selective or biased in what he or she writes.
In the third approach, the interviewer uses no tape recording, but instead takes detailed notes
during the interview and draws on memory to expand and clarify the notes immediately after the
interview. This approach is useful if time is short, the results are needed quickly, and the evaluation
questions are simple. Where more complex questions are involved, effective note-taking can be
achieved, but only after much practice. Further, the interviewer must frequently talk and write at the
same time, a skill that is hard for some to achieve.

5. Focus Groups
Focus groups combine elements of both interviewing and participant observation. The focus
group session is, indeed, an interview (Patton, 1990) not a discussion group, problem-solving session,
or decision-making group. At the same time, focus groups capitalize on group dynamics. The
hallmark of focus groups is the explicit use of the group interaction to generate data and insights that
would be unlikely to emerge without the interaction found in a group. The technique inherently

allows observation of group dynamics, discussion, and firsthand insights into the respondents
behaviors, attitudes, language, etc.
Focus groups are a gathering of 8 to 12 people who share some characteristics relevant to the
evaluation. Originally used as a market research tool to investigate the appeal of various products, the
focus group technique has been adopted by other fields, such as education, as a tool for data gathering
on a given topic. Focus groups conducted by experts take place in a focus group facility that includes
recording apparatus (audio and/or visual) and an attached room with a one-way mirror for
observation. There is an official recorder who may or may not be in the room. Participants are paid
for attendance and provided with refreshments. As the focus group technique has been adopted by
fields outside of marketing, some of these features, such as payment or refreshment, have been
eliminated.
5.1 When to use focus groups: When conducting evaluations, focus groups are useful in answering
the same type of questions as in-depth interviews, except in a social context. Specific applications of
the focus group method in evaluations include
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

identifying and defining problems in project implementation;


identifying project strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations;
assisting with interpretation of quantitative findings;
obtaining perceptions of project outcomes and impacts; and
generating new ideas.

In the hypothetical project, focus groups could be conducted with project participants to
collect perceptions of project implementation and operation (e.g., Were the workshops staffed
appropriately? Were the presentations suitable for all participants?), as well as progress toward
objectives during the formative phase of evaluation (Did participants exchange information by e-mail
and other means?). Focus groups could also be used to collect data on project outcomes and impact
during the summative phase of evaluation (e.g., Were changes made in the curriculum? Did students
taught by participants appear to become more interested in class work? What barriers did the
participants face in applying what they had been taught?).
Which to use: Focus groups or in-depth interviews?
Factors to consider

Use focus groups when...

Use indepth interview when...

Group interaction

interaction of respondents may


stimulate a richer response or
new and valuable thought.

group interaction is likely to be


limited or nonproductive.

Group/peer pressure

group/peer pressure will be


valuable in challenging the
thinking of respondents and
illuminating conflicting
opinions.

group/peer pressure would


inhibit responses and cloud the
meaning of results. Color r
Color

Sensitivity of subject matter

subject matter is not so sensitive


that respondents will temper

subject matter is so sensitive that


respondents would be unwilling

responses or withhold
information.

to talk openly in a group.

Depth of individual responses

the topic is such that most


respondents can say all that is
relevant or all that they know in
less than 10 minutes.

the topic is such that a greater


depth of response per individual
is desirable, as with complex
subject matter and very
knowledgeable respondents.

Data collector fatigue

it is desirable to have one


individual conduct the data
collection; a few groups will not
create fatigue or boredom for
one person.

it is possible to use numerous


individuals on the project; one
interviewer would become
fatigued or bored conducting all
interviews.

Extent of issues to be covered

the volume of issues to cover is


not extensive.

a greater volume of issues must


be covered.

Continuity of information

a single subject area is being


examined in depth and strings of
behaviors are less relevant.

it is necessary to understand
how attitudes and behaviors link
together on an individual basis.

Experimentation with interview


guide

enough is known to establish a


meaningful topic guide.

it may be necessary to develop


the interview guide by altering it
after each of the initial
interviews.

Observation by stakeholders

it is desirable for stakeholders to


hear what participants have to
say.

stakeholders do not need to hear


firsthand the opinions of
participants.

Logistics geographically

an acceptable number of target


respondents can be assembled in
one location.

respondents are dispersed or not


easily assembled for other
reasons.

Cost and training

quick turnaround is critical, and


funds are limited.

quick turnaround is not critical,


and budget will permit higher
cost.

Availability of qualified staff

focus group facilitators need to


be able to control and manage
groups

interviewers need to be
supportive and skilled listeners.

5.2 Developing a focus group


Focus group participants are typically asked to reflect on the questions asked by the
moderator. Participants are permitted to hear each others responses and to make additional comments
beyond their own original responses as they hear what other people have to say. It is not necessary for
the group to reach any kind of consensus, nor it is necessary for people to disagree. The moderator
must keep the discussion flowing and make sure that one or two persons do not dominate the
discussion. As a rule, the focus group session should not last longer than 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When very
specific information is required, the session may be as short as 40 minutes. The objective is to get

high-quality data in a social context where people can consider their own views in the context of the
views of others, and where new ideas and perspectives can be introduced.
The participants are usually a relatively homogeneous group of people. Answering the
question, "Which respondent variables represent relevant similarities among the target population?"
requires some thoughtful consideration when planning the evaluation. Respondents social class, level
of expertise, age, cultural background, and sex should always be considered. There is a sharp division
among focus group moderators regarding the effectiveness of mixing sexes within a group, although
most moderators agree that it is acceptable to mix the sexes when the discussion topic is not related to
or affected by sex stereotypes.
Determining how many groups are needed requires balancing cost and information needs. A
focus group can be fairly expensive, costing $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the type of physical
facilities needed, the effort it takes to recruit participants, and the complexity of the reports required.
A good rule of thumb is to conduct at least two groups for every variable considered to be relevant to
the outcome (sex, age, educational level, etc.). However, even when several groups are sampled,
conclusions typically are limited to the specific individuals participating in the focus group. Unless
the study population is extremely small, it is not possible to generalize from focus group data.
5.3 Recording focus group data: The procedures for recording a focus group session are basically
the same as those used for indepth interviews. However, the focus group approach lends itself to
more creative and efficient procedures. If the evaluation team does use a focus group room with a
one-way mirror, a colleague can take notes and record observations. An advantage of this approach is
that the extra individual is not in the view of participants and, therefore, not interfering with the group
process. If a one-way mirror is not a possibility, the moderator may have a colleague present in the
room to take notes and to record observations. A major advantage of these approaches is that the
recorder focuses on observing and taking notes, while the moderator concentrates on asking
questions, facilitating the group interaction, following up on ideas, and making smooth transitions
from issue to issue. Furthermore, like observations, focus groups can be videotaped. These
approaches allow for confirmation of what was seen and heard. Whatever the approach to gathering
detailed data, informed consent is necessary and confidentiality should be assured.
Having highlighted the similarities between interviews and focus groups, it is important to
also point out one critical difference. In focus groups, group dynamics are especially important. The
notes, and resultant report, should include comments on group interaction and dynamics as they
inform the questions under study.

6. Summing up
This Unit intended to introduce the methods of qualitative data collection with special
reference to the three most common qualitative methods which are participant observation, in-depth
interviews, and focus groups. Participant observation is a qualitative method with roots in traditional
ethnographic research, whose objective is to help researchers learn the perspectives held by study
populations. Data obtained through participant observation serve as a check against participants
subjective reporting of what they believe and do. Participant observation is also useful for gaining an
understanding of the physical, social, cultural, and economic contexts in which study participants

live; the relationships among and between people, contexts, ideas, norms, and events; and peoples
behaviors and activities what they do, how frequently, and with whom.
Interviews provide very different data from observations: they allow the evaluation team to
capture the perspectives of project participants, staff, and others associated with the project. The use
of interviews as a data collection method begins with the assumption that the participants
perspectives are meaningful, knowable, and able to be made explicit, and that their perspectives affect
the success of the project. An interview, rather than a paper and pencil survey, is selected when
interpersonal contact is important and when opportunities for follow up of interesting comments are
desired.
Similarly, focus groups are a qualitative data collection method effective in helping
researchers learn the social norms of a community or subgroup, as well as the range of perspectives
that exist within that community or subgroup. Focus groups are often used to determine what service
or product a particular population wants or would like to have, such as in marketing studies Because
focus groups seek to illuminate group opinion, the method is especially well suited for socio
behavioral research that will be used to develop and measure services that meet the needs of a given
population.

7. Keywords
Data collection instruments: Tools or forms used to collect data from research participants. Data
collection instruments include in-depth interview guides, focus group guides, observation guides, and
interviewer scripts. Equipment used during data collection, such as tape recorders or microphones, are
not data collection instruments.
Data tracking: Monitoring the status of data processing.
Facilitator: The moderator or note-taker of a focus group.
Focus group: A qualitative research method in which one or two researchers and several participants
(usually representatives from, or individuals associated with, a target/study population) meet as a
group to discuss a specific research topic. This technique is effective for quickly accessing a broad
range of views on a specific topic. During a typical focus group, one researcher (the moderator) leads
a discussion by asking participants to respond to open-ended questions while a second researcher (the
notetaker) takes detailed notes on the discussion.
In-depth interview: A qualitative research method in which a researcher/interviewer gathers data
about an individuals perspectives on a specific topic(s) through a semi-structured exchange with the
individual. The researcher/interviewer engages with the individual by posing questions in a neutral
manner, listening attentively to responses, and asking follow-up questions and probes based on those
responses.
Interviewer: Person who conducts in-depth interviews; can also refer to the person who asks
questions during focus groups. Also known as the moderator.

Moderator: Person who facilitates a focus group. Also known as a facilitator. note-taker Person
responsible for taking notes during a focus group. Also known as a facilitator.
Participant observation: A qualitative research method in which researchers gather data either by
observing or by both observing and participating, to varying degrees, in the study communitys daily
activities, in community settings relevant to the research questions. Examples include bars, brothels,
and health clinic waiting areas.
Respect: Commitment to ensuring that research participants are not used only as a means to achieve
research objectives by ensuring their autonomy, voluntary informed consent, and confidentiality, and
by protecting persons with diminished autonomy.

8. Know your Progress


1.

What are the most common qualitative methods employed in project evaluations?

2.

What are the disadvantages of participant observation method?

3.

In-depth interviews method can be used for answering what type of questions.

4.

Focus groups are useful in answering what type of questions.

9. Further Reading / References


Fetterman, D.M. (1989). Ethnography: Step by Step. Applied Social Research Methods Series, Vol.
17. Sage, Newbury Park, CA.
Guba, E.G., and Lincoln, Y.S. (1981). Effective Evaluation. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
Lincoln, Y.S., and Guba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.
Lofland, J., and Lofland, L.H. (1995). Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation
and Analysis, 3rd Ed. Belmont Wadsworth , CA:
Patton, M.Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods, 2nd Ed. Sage. Newbury Park,
CA.
Schalock, H.D., Schalock, M.D., and Girad, G.R. (In press). Teacher work sample methodology, as
used at Western Oregon State College. In J. Millman, Ed., Assuring Accountability? Using Gains in
Student Learning to Evaluate Teachers and Schools. : Corwin, Newbury Park, CA

10. Model Answers


1.
The three most common qualitative methods, explained in detail in their respective modules,
are participant observation, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Each method is particularly suited
for obtaining a specific type of data.
a.
b.
c.

Participant observation is appropriate for collecting data on naturally occurring behaviors


in their usual contexts.
In-depth interviews are optimal for collecting data on individuals personal histories,
perspectives, and experiences, particularly when sensitive topics are being explored.
Focus groups are effective in eliciting data on the cultural norms of a group and in
generating broad overviews of issues of concern to the cultural groups or subgroups
represented.

2.
The main disadvantage of participant observation is that it is time-consuming. In traditional
ethnographic research, researchers spend at least one year in the field site collecting data through
participant observation and other methods. This is not practical for most applied research studies,
which necessarily require a shorter period of data collection. This weakness is partially mitigated in
most current international development projects by the tendency for the inquiry to be more focused
than in traditional ethnographic study and for the data collection team to include researchers who are
native rather than foreign to the region. Researchers who already possess a solid base of cultural
awareness are better able to concentrate on the research question itself. A second disadvantage of
participant observation is the difficulty of documenting the data it is hard to write down everything
that is important while you are in the act of participating and observing. As the researcher, you must
therefore rely on your memory and on your own personal discipline to write down and expand your
observations as soon and as completely as possible. It is easy to tell yourself that you will do this task
later, but, because memory fades quickly, postponing the expansion of notes can lead to loss or
inaccurate recording of data.
The quality of the data therefore depends on the diligence of the researcher, rather than on technology
such as tape recorders. A third disadvantage of participant observation is that it is an inherently
subjective exercise, here as research requires objectivity. It is therefore important to understand the
difference between reporting or describing what you observe (more objective) versus interpreting
what you see (less objective). Filtering out personal biases may take some practice. One way to
practice is to write down objective observations of a given event on one side of a page, and then offer
more subjective interpretations of the same event on the other side of the page, as illustrated in the
box at left. Alternately, in team based research, field staff can review one anothers field notes and
help identify objective versus subjective observations.

3)
In-depth interviews can be used at any stage of the evaluation process. They are especially
useful in answering questions such as those suggested by Patton (1990):

What does the program look and feel like to the participants? To other stakeholders?
What are the experiences of program participants?

What do stakeholders know about the project?


What thoughts do stakeholders knowledgeable about the program have concerning program
operations, processes, and outcomes?
What are participants and stakeholders expectations?
What features of the project are most salient to the participants?
What changes do participants perceive in themselves as a result of their involvement in the
project?

Specific circumstances for which in-depth interviews are particularly appropriate include

complex subject matter;


detailed information sought;
busy, high-status respondents; and
highly sensitive subject matter.

4)
When conducting evaluations, focus groups are useful in answering the same type of
questions as in-depth interviews, except in a social context. Specific applications of the focus group
method in evaluations include
6. identifying and defining problems in project implementation;
7. identifying project strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations;
8. assisting with interpretation of quantitative findings;
9. obtaining perceptions of project outcomes and impacts; and
10. generating new ideas.
In the hypothetical project, focus groups could be conducted with project participants to
collect perceptions of project implementation and operation (e.g., Were the workshops staffed
appropriately? Were the presentations suitable for all participants?), as well as progress toward
objectives during the formative phase of evaluation (Did participants exchange information by e-mail
and other means?). Focus groups could also be used to collect data on project outcomes and impact
during the summative phase of evaluation (e.g., Were changes made in the curriculum? Did students
taught by participants appear to become more interested in class work? What barriers did the
participants face in applying what they had been taught?).

Unit- 3: ACTION RESEARCH

Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. What is Action Research?
3.1 Defining action research
3.2 Principles of action research
3.3 When is action research used?
3.4 Role of the action researcher
4. Differences between action research and mainstream science
5. Practicing action research
5.1 The process of reflection in action research
5.2 Challenging people to change
6. Summing up
7. Keywords
8. Know your Progress
9. Further Reading / References
10. Model Answers

1. Introduction
The action research is a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals
working with others in teams or as part of a "community of practice" to improve the way they address
issues and solve problems. Action research can also be undertaken by larger organizations or
institutions, assisted or guided by professional researchers, with the aim of improving their strategies,
practices, and knowledge of the environments within which they practice. As designers and
stakeholders, researchers work with others to propose a new course of action to help their community
improve its work practices.

2. Objectives
After studying this Unit, you should be able to:

Appreciate what is a concept note;


How to write a concept note:
What is a project;
How to write a research proposal; and
The common mistakes in writing a research proposal.

3. What is Action Research?


Action research or participatory action research is a recognised form of experimental
research that focuses on the effects of the researcher's direct actions of practice within a participatory
community with the goal of improving the performance quality of the community or an area of
concern. Kurt Lewin, a Professor at MIT, first coined the term action research in about 1944. In his
1946 paper Action Research and Minority Problems , he described action research as a
comparative research on the conditions and effects of various forms of social action and research
leading to social action that uses a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of
planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action.
3.1

Defining Action Research

Action research is known by many other names, including participatory research,


collaborative inquiry, emancipatory research, action learning, and contextual action research, but all
are variations on a theme. Put simply, action research is learning by doing - a group of people
identify a problem, do something to resolve it, see how successful their efforts were, and if not
satisfied, try again. While this is the essence of the approach, there are other key attributes of action
research that differentiate it from common problem-solving activities that we all engage in every day.
A more succinct definition is,
"Action research aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate
problematic situation and to further the goals of social science simultaneously. Thus, there is a dual
commitment in action research to study a system and concurrently to collaborate with members of the
system in changing it in what is together regarded as a desirable direction. Accomplishing this twin
goal requires the active collaboration of researcher and client, and thus it stresses the importance of
co-learning as a primary aspect of the research process."
What separates this type of research from general professional practices, consulting, or daily
problem-solving is the emphasis on scientific study, which is to say the researcher studies the
problem systematically and ensures the intervention is informed by theoretical considerations. Much
of the researchers time is spent on refining the methodological tools to suit the exigencies of the
situation, and on collecting, analyzing, and presenting data on an ongoing, cyclical basis.
Several attributes separate action research from other types of research. Primary is its focus
on turning the people involved into researchers, too - people learn best, and more willingly apply
what they have learned, when they do it themselves. It also has a social dimension - the research
takes place in real-world situations, and aims to solve real problems. Finally, the initiating
researcher, unlike in other disciplines, makes no attempt to remain objective, but openly
acknowledges their bias to the other participants.
Action research is an interactive inquiry process that balances problem solving actions
implemented in a collaborative context with data-driven collaborative analysis or research to
understand underlying causes enabling future predictions about personal and organizational change
(Reason & Bradbury, 2001). After six decades of action research development, many methodologies

have evolved that adjust the balance to focus more on the actions taken or more on the research that
results from the reflective understanding of the actions. This tension exists between:
1. those who are more driven by the researchers agenda and those more driven by participants;
2. those who are motivated primarily by instrumental goal attainment and those motivated
primarily by the aim of personal, organisational, or societal transformation; and
3. 1st-, to 2nd-, to 3rd-person research, that is, my research on my own action, aimed primarily
at personal change; our research on our group (family/team), aimed primarily at improving the
group; and scholarly research aimed primarily at theoretical generalisation and/or large scale
change.
Action research challenges traditional social science, by moving beyond reflective knowledge
created by outside experts sampling variables to an active moment-to-moment theorising, data
collecting, and enquiring occurring in the midst of emergent structure. Knowledge is always gained
through action and for action. From this starting point, to question the validity of social knowledge is
to question, not how to develop a reflective science about action, but how to develop genuinely wellinformed action how to conduct an action science (Torbert 2001).
Action research involves utilising a systematic cyclical method of planning, taking action,
observing, evaluating (including self-evaluation) and critical reflecting prior to planning the next
cycle (O'Brien, 2001; McNiff, 2002). The actions have a set goal of addressing an identified problem
in the workplace, for example, reducing the illiteracy of students through use of new strategies
(Quigley, 2000) or improving communication and efficiency in a hospital emergency room
(Eisenberg, Baglia, Pyrnes, 2006). It is a collaborative method to test new ideas and implement action
for change. It involves direct participation in a dynamic research process, while monitoring and
evaluating the effects of the researcher's actions with the aim of improving practice (Dick, 2002;
Checkland & Holwell, 1998; Hult & Lennung, 1980). At its core, action research is a way to increase
understanding of how change in one's actions or practices can mutually benefit a community of
practitioners. One of the key characteristics of this approach is collaboration, which enables mutual
understanding and consensus, democratic decision making and common action (Oja & Smulyan 1989
p.12).
In this sense the action researcher is a practitioner, an interventionist seeking to help improve
client systems. "This help takes the form of creating conditions in the behavioural world of the client
system that are conducive to inquiry and learning. Lasting improvement requires that the
participatory action researcher help clients to change themselves so that their interactions will create
these conditions for inquiry and learning" (Argyris et al. 1985 p.137). Hence to the aims of
contributing to the practical improvement of problem situations and to the goals of developing public
knowledge we can add a third aim of action research, to develop the self-help competencies of people
facing problems.
Within this broad definition, there are four basic themes: i) collaboration through
participation; ii) acquisition of knowledge; iii) social change; and iv) empowerment of participants.
The process that the researcher uses to guide those involved can be seen as a spiral of action research
cycles consisting of phases of planning, acting, observing and reflecting (Masters 1995). As Oja and
Smulyan (1989) point out, the underlying assumption of this approach -- which can be traced back to

Lewin's writing in 1948 -- is that effective social change depends on the commitment and
understanding of those involved in the change process . In other words, if people work together on a
common problem "clarifying and negotiating ideas and concerns, they will be more likely to change
their minds if research indicates such change is necessary. Also, it is suggested that collaboration can
provide people with the time and support necessary to make fundamental changes in their practice
which endure beyond the research process (Oja & Smulyan 1989).
3.2 Principles of Action Research
What gives action research its unique flavour is the set of principles that guide the research.
Winter (1989) provides a comprehensive overview of six key principles.
1) Reflexive critique
An account of a situation, such as notes, transcripts or official documents, will make implicit
claims to be authoritative, i.e., it implies that it is factual and true. Truth in a social setting, however,
is relative to the teller. The principle of reflective critique ensures people reflect on issues and
processes and make explicit the interpretations, biases, assumptions and concerns upon which
judgments are made. In this way, practical accounts can give rise to theoretical considerations.
2) Dialectical critique
Reality, particularly social reality, is consensually validated, which is to say it is shared
through language. Phenomena are conceptualized in dialogue, therefore a dialectical critique is
required to understand the set of relationships both between the phenomenon and its context, and
between the elements constituting the phenomenon. The key elements to focus attention on are those
constituent elements that are unstable, or in opposition to one another. These are the ones that are
most likely to create changes.
3) Collaborative resource
Participants in an action research project are co-researchers. The principle of collaborative
resource presupposes that each persons ideas are equally significant as potential resources for
creating interpretive categories of analysis, negotiated among the participants. It strives to avoid the
skewing of credibility stemming from the prior status of an idea-holder. It especially makes possible
the insights gleaned from noting the contradictions both between many viewpoints and within a
single viewpoint
4) Risk
The change process potentially threatens all previously established ways of doing things, thus
creating psychic fears among the practitioners. One of the more prominent fears comes from the risk
to ego stemming from open discussion of ones interpretations, ideas, and judgments. Initiators of
action research will use this principle to allay others fears and invite participation by pointing out

that they, too, will be subject to the same process, and that whatever the outcome, learning will take
place.
5) Plural Structure
The nature of the research embodies a multiplicity of views, commentaries and critiques,
leading to multiple possible actions and interpretations. This plural structure of enquiry requires a
plural text for reporting. This means that there will be many accounts made explicit, with
commentaries on their contradictions, and a range of options for action presented. A report,
therefore, acts as a support for ongoing discussion among collaborators, rather than a final conclusion
of fact.
6) Theory, Practice, Transformation
For action researchers, theory informs practice, practice refines theory, in a continuous
transformation. In any setting, peoples actions are based on implicitly held assumptions, theories
and hypotheses, and with every observed result, theoretical knowledge is enhanced. The two are
intertwined aspects of a single change process. It is up to the researchers to make explicit the
theoretical justifications for the actions, and to question the bases of those justifications. The ensuing
practical applications that follow are subjected to further analysis, in a transformative cycle that
continuously alternates emphasis between theory and practice.
3.3 When is action research used?
Action research is used in real situations, rather than in contrived, experimental studies, since
its primary focus is on solving real problems. It can, however, be used by social scientists for
preliminary or pilot research, especially when the situation is too ambiguous to frame a precise
research question. Mostly, though, in accordance with its principles, it is chosen when circumstances
require flexibility, the involvement of the people in the research, or change must take place quickly or
holistically.
It is often the case that those who apply this approach are practitioners who wish to improve
understanding of their practice, social change activists trying to mount an action campaign, or, more
likely, academics who have been invited into an organization (or other domain) by decision-makers
aware of a problem requiring action research, but lacking the requisite methodological knowledge to
deal with it.
3.4 Role of the action researcher
The role of the action researcher is identical to that proposed for contemporary facilitators in
helping communities identify and adopt more sustainable natural resource management practices (eg.
Pretty & Chambers 1993, Pretty 1998).
These facilitators may come from the community or they may be research or agency staff.
However, their most effective role will be to involve the wider community to develop participatory
attitudes, excitement and commitment to work together on jointly negotiated courses of action to

bring about improvements and innovation for individual and community benefit. While this role is
similar to much of consultancy, action research provides a means by which is more rigorous, and
which allows for the development of public knowledge to advance the field.
In turn, by establishing conditions for the development of others, the action researcher
acquires increasing skills in such things as the ability to build shared vision, to bring to the surface
and challenge prevailing mental models, and to foster more systemic patterns of thinking. To
paraphrase Senge (1990), action researchers are responsible for building frameworks and networks
through which people are continuously expanding their capabilities to shape their future. That is,
action researchers are responsible for developing a learning environment which challenges the status
quo and generating liberating alternatives (Argyris et al. 1985 p.xi). Accordingly, the general aims of
AR are frequently expressed in terms of orienting process criteria (e.g. participation, emancipation)
and it seems worthwhile to continue to stress these characteristics to differentiate AR from other
approaches to social change (Altrichter et al. 1991). These characteristics are well captured by ZuberSkerritt's (1992 p.15) CRASP definition of action research as: Critical collaborative enquiry by
Reflective practitioners, who are Accountable in making the results of their enquiry public, Selfevaluative of their practice, and engaged in Participative problem solving and continuing
professional development.
This broad outline of action research sketched above is capable of encompassing and learning
from a variety of research and intervention methods in a number of fields. Today we can identify
clear applications of AR in a number of fields including organisational management, community
development, education, agriculture and participatory evaluation (Deshler & Ewert 1995). The term
'action research' itself can be regarded as an umbrella term that includes several traditions of theory
and practice. It is broad enough to include, for instance, Soft Systems Methodology (Checkland 1981)
and Guba and Lincoln's (1989) Fourth-generation evaluation. Other terms including participatory
research, action learning, praxis research, participatory inquiry, collaborative inquiry, action inquiry,
and cooperative inquiry are also used in the literature (e.g. Whyte 1991).

4. Differences between Action Research and Mainstream Science


Although research approaches for addressing 'soft system' problem situations such as action
research should be seen as complementary to other science approaches, there are some significant
differences between action research and more mainstream science approaches. As the name implies,
action research represents a form of inquiry into how human beings design and implement action in
relation to one another. Hence, it is a science of practice - a concept which contrasts strongly with the
mainstream science tradition. "We are accustomed to distinguishing between theory and practice,
between thought and action, between science and common sense" (Argyris et al. 1985 p.1).
Accordingly, while researchers attempt to bridge these conceptual chasms, the debate over whether or
not action research is a science, or whether it could or should aspire to scientific status continues (e.g.
Susman & Evered 1978, Checkland 1981, Argyris et al. 1985). While, as Checkland (1990 p.4)
observes, these problems have not been too inhibiting to practitioners in the field, a comparison of
some of the main points of difference between action research and mainstream science are useful
particularly in justifying its use as an appropriate methodology to the research and development
challenges outlined in the previous chapter.

For more than one hundred years the positivist conception of science has dominated the
practice of physical, biological and social sciences. The underlying basis for this mainstream
approach is the consideration of scientific knowledge to be obtainable only from sense data that can
be directly experienced and verified between independent observors (Susman & Evered 1978 p.583).
While this epistemology was designed with the natural sciences in mind (particularly physics)
proponents argue that it characterises all sciences insofar as they are scientific; and this has also been
the predominant opinion among the social sciences (Argyris et al. 1985 p.12).
But, to use Nelson's moon-ghetto metaphor; while science has enabled us to control the soft
landings of space craft on distant planets, it has not helped us solve the 'lesser' problems associated
with urban slums (Rosenhead 1989 p.4). In particular, positivist science has proved to have some
deficiencies when it has been removed from the closely defined laboratory setting and asked to cope
with the kind of organised complexity facing humanity and the life sciences in the 'real' world (for a
more complete discussion of this topic see Checkland 1981). In fact Lewin's concern that mainstream
science was not helping in the resolution of critical social problems was the driving force beyond his
development of action research (Susman & Evered 1978). In mainstream social science
implementation has been seen as a problem of application, of practice, perhaps of politics -- but not of
theoretical science (Argyris et al. 1985 p.19). From the perspective of action research, however,
implementation is not separable from crucial theoretical issues.
In traditional research, the researcher makes every effort to remain objectively remote from
the system being studied (Bawden 1991 p.37). He / she is separated from the system being studied
by a hard boundary and the system is reduced to one, or only a few parts, with the rest of the system
assumed to be held constant. This research is appropriate in many circumstances, particularly in the
bio-physical sciences. On the other hand, action research involves taking action in social systems of
which the researcher is unavoidably a part. Indeed, it is the activity of the (researcher)-observer
joining with other participant-observers, that enables the system to become a researching system in
the first place! (Bawden 1991 p.37). These involve the study of soft systems without clearly
defined boundaries between the researcher and the system.
Because the research involves complex and dynamic problems, exploring the social process of
learning about situations is inextricably linked with the acts of changing those situations. In these
systems the researcher must actively participate with others in the critical exploration of complex and
dynamic issues of implementation which relate to the relationships between individuals, groups and
their physical and socio-cultural environments. Furthermore, success in social change is not achieved
simply by making the right decision at a particular time, but rather through developing a social
process that facilitates ongoing learning (e.g. Korten 1980, Whyte 1989).
Thus, while as Argyris et al. (1985 p.18) remind us that there are continuities in the core
features of mainstream science and action research including hard data and public testing, there are
crucial differences as well. For one, action research sits squarely within the tradition of qualitative
research methodology, rather than the more mainstream quantitative research paradigm. As Bunning
(1995) points out, one reason for this is that action researchers seek to influence the phenomena being
studied during the action research process itself, in the belief that the true nature of social systems
become most evident when you seek to make changes to them. Because of this interventionist
approach, the experimental standardisation of positivistic research is neither possible or desirable.

Similarly, because action research thus addresses whole system issues which are invariably multivariate (and somewhat indeterminate!) these are best approached within a qualitative and holistic
framework, rather than a reductionist, and quantitative framework.
Another contrast between action research and mainstream science is that action research is
focused on what could be, rather than what is. "New thinking in action research seems to take the
social construction of reality seriously. The emphasis is on possibility rather than prediction. From a
constructivist perspective (action research) can contribute to people realising their values -envisaging a preferred future and organising effectively to achieve it" (Elden & Chisholm 1993
p.127). As these authors go on to point out, this highlights how action researchers are not 'value
neutral', but rather concerned with selecting problems to solve that would both contribute to general
knowledge and practice solutions concerning democratic, humanistic values. In this way, action
research is change oriented and seeks to bring about change that has positive social value (e.g. healthy
communities, environmentally sound management, etc.).
These points and others which contrast the differences between mainstream science and action
research are outlined in Table 1.
Table 1: Comparisons of positivist science and action research
Points of
comparison

Positivist science

Action research

Value position

Methods are value


neutral

Methods develop social systems and


release human potential

Time perspective

Observation of the
present

Observation of the present plus


interpretation of the present from
knowledge of the past, conceptualisation
of more desirable futures

Relationship with
units

Detached spectator,
client system members
are objects to study

Client system members are self-reflective


subjects with whom to collaborate

Treatment of units
studied

Cases are of interest


only as representatives
of populations

Cases can be sufficient sources of


knowledge

Language for
describing units

Denotative,
observational

Connotative, metaphorical

Basis for assuming


existence of units

Exist independently of
humans

Human artifacts for human purposes

Epistemological
aims

Induction and deduction

Conjecturing, creating settings for


learning and modeling of behaviour

Criteria for
confirmation

Logical consistency,
prediction and control

Evaluating whether actions produce


intended consequences

Basis for
generalization

Broad, universal and


free of context

Narrow situational and bound by context

Source: Susman & Evered ,1978

Another point of distinction concerns the issue of participation in the research process. It is
already clear from the above discussion that action research is by definition participatory, however,
the implications of this -- particularly in the way that research is written up -- reveal clear differences
in the relationship of the researcher and the researched within different research paradigms.
Moreover, this distinction enables us not only to see the difference between mainstream positivist
science and action research, but also clear differences between action research and more mainstream
qualitative and interpretive social science approaches.
Fundamental, then, to action research is the concept of 'learning by doing' in which learning is
perceived as experiential and reflexive. It recognises that people learn through the active adaptation
of their existing knowledge in response to their experiences with other people and their environment.
As the dynamics of a social system are often more apparent in times of change, learning and change
can enhance each other.

5. Practicing Action Research


However, while the above discussion of action research has concentrated on aim, there is also
a need to specify the approaches and processes that the action researcher -- as a 'change agent' -- uses
to achieve these aims in practice. Clearly, the present which is already determined by its own past is
hard to change. However, as Dick (1996??) points out, the one exception to this is the change agent's
own behaviour. "By act of will you can change your own behaviour. If you change your own
behaviour in interaction with others, you can then change the relationships and the processes and
actions that characterise it" (Dick 1996). In short, the action researcher has little option but to work
with processes and relationships. That is all that is available. But through them the mechanisms for
participation, more democratic and transparent decision making processes, and the prevailing culture,
can be influenced.
In this sense the action research project begins with a process of communication and
agreement between people who want to change something together. In terms of the aims of action
research outlined earlier, this joint and bounded undertaking aims to build-up the participating actor's
capacity to act, and support them in improving their problem situations in a self-reliant and
empowering manner. As Schwedersky & Karkoschka (1996) point out, as we think in these terms, the
notion of the project as a mechanistic operation designed to reach a preconceived 'end' or 'solution' is
transformed into a concept of collaboration as a 'process'. Together those involved cover a certain
amount of ground, and as the actors come to a cross-roads in the process they think together about
which way they might go next.

However, some people are more suited to, and interested in, participating in an action research
change inquiry than others. As Bunning (1995) points out, the reality of that because of downsizing,
reduction in organisational levels and increased accountability, there are higher levels of stress and
pressure around than ever before. While it is precisely those symptoms that indicate that change and
development is needed, if people are not provided with the capacity to participate successful change
is unlikely to be developed. Thus more will be learnt by a few genuinely committed co-researchers
dedicated to exploring change within a smaller case study approach, than may be gained by engaging
with a larger number of less willing participants in a bigger inquiry.
Thankfully, for the action researcher, the idea of learning collaboratively is not new -although as pointed out above some people are more effective than others. "Most of us, if we wish to
learn a new skill or broaden our perspectives on an issue, will seek out some collaborative learning
environment such as a club or training programme. Similarly, talking an issue through is a natural
process for many people. We gain new insights as we express our own views and we subsequently
modify our views as other people provide us with new ways of looking at the issue at hand
(Kilvington et al. 1999 p.14). However, as these authors observe well-functioning groups do not
happen by accident, and skills in managing group dynamics to keep the group moving in a positive
direction are therefore central to the successful practice of action research. Awareness of what is
happening to a group and access to the skills necessary to address this are crucial to the long-term
viability of groups and their success in achieving their goals.
Similarly, the process of learning by building on experience is a natural one for most people
and action research provides a framework for formalising and making this process more effective. "In
brief, it consists of an iterative and cyclic approach of action and research with four major phases:
plan, act, observe and reflect"(Zuber-Skerritt 1991 ). The basic underlying assumption which
underpins theory and practice is the existence of an experiential-based learning cycle ( Kolb et al.
1979) that people can learn and create knowledge: i) on the basis of their concrete experience; ii)
through observing and reflecting on that experience; iii) by forming abstract concepts and
generalisations about what to do next; and iv) by testing the implications of these concepts in new
situations -- which will lead to new concrete experiences, and hence the beginning of a new cycle. As
a number of reviewers point out, this model is similar to other conceptions of basic adaptive
processes, or problem solving, creativity, and decision making (e.g. Bawden et al..1984, Ison & Ampt
1992) .

5.1 The process of reflection in action research


Thus, in some sense of the terms, action research tends to be cyclic, participative, qualitative
and critically reflective. All of these features (except the last) can be seen as choices to be made by
the researcher in the context of the problem being studied (Dick 1993). And it is this process of
critical reflection that distinguishes action research from everyday inquiry (Dick 1996, Wortley 1996,
Bunning 1995) and also makes it a particularly suitable approach with which to help develop the
change needed for areas such as environmental management and sustainable development. Indeed, in
the sense that action research seeks alternatives to the status quo that will both illuminate what exists
and inform fundamental change, it is a form of critical theory and seeks to stimulate critical reflection

among human agents so that they may more freely choose whether and how to transform their world
(Argyris et al. 1985 pp.70-71).
As Kemmis and McTaggert observe, to do action research one must plan, act, observe and
reflect "more carefully, more systematically, and more rigorously than one does in everyday life: and
to use the relationships between those moments in the process as a source of both improvement and
knowledge" (1988 p.10). It is the process of reflection in this process, on one's own views as well as
those of others, that provides the basis for learning -- enabling all those involved to develop a more
holistic perspective of any given situation, within which they can best make their particular
contribution.
The challenge for the action researcher lies in the fact that learning can be difficult, even at an
individual level. Accepting new information that challenges the way we think and the things we do is,
even with the best of will, difficult to undertake, to accomplish, and to sustain (Michael 1995).
Finding out about problems also implies that we may have to act to correct them. What often stops us
doing this is an anxiety, or the feeling that if we allow ourselves to enter a learning or change process,
if we admit to ourselves and others that something is wrong or not right, we will lose our
effectiveness, our esteem, and maybe even our identity. Most of us need to assume we are doing our
best at all times, and it may prove a real loss of face to accept and even "embrace" errors. Adapting
poorly, or failing to realise our creative potential may be more desirable than risking failure and loss
of esteem during the learning process (Allen & Kilvington 1999).
5.2 Challenging people to change
Because of this, "learning, which mostly upsets beliefs and habits in individuals and
organisations, is hardly likely to be embraced easily and enthusiastically, even though there is a
growing, and sometimes powerful, recognition of the need for change" (Michael 1995 p.470). Indeed,
as Argyris et al. (1985 ch.3) point out, individuals and organisations have a number of defensive
reactions that resist change -- or learning -- by preventing open dialogue and the integration of new
information which may challenge their existing worldviews (values, assumptions, paradigms, etc.).
These defenses include making some subjects 'undiscussable' (Argyris et al. 1985 p.87), or an
unawareness that their 'espoused theory -- the world view and values people believe their behaviour is
based on -- is different to their 'theory in use' -- the worldviews and values implied by their behaviour
(Argyris et al. p.82).
Accordingly, as Aryris et al.. (1985 pp.84-85) suggest that the first match to any inquiry into a
mismatch between intention and outcome is likely to search for another strategy that will satisfy the
'governing variables', the belief systems and values which the individual or organisation is trying to
maintain. For example if a land manager views his/her enterprise solely in terms of sheep production
and notes that the vegetation condition of the land is deteriorating, the action strategy will likely be to
try a different grazing regime. In such a case when new strategies are used to support the same
governing variable (i.e. the land as a sheep production system) this is called single loop learning
(Figure 1). A similar science example might arise in response to funder requirements for a scientist to
be more participative. The response might be to find a 'friendly' group of people to work with that are
happy to acknowledge the scientist as the 'unquestioned expert' - the governing variable.

However, another possibility is to change the governing variables themselves. For example
rather than try a new grazing strategy, the land manager may choose to initiate a more open form of
enquiry. The associated action strategy might then be to look at how the enterprise could function as a
tourism, or forestry, system for example. The scientist may choose to involve appropriate stakeholder
groups in a more collaborative approach, changing the role of science to one of a co-researcher and
recognizing that the role of 'expert' is more a matter of perspective. These cases are called doubleloop learning, and involve more fundamental shifts in people's belief systems and values. In this way
they can often minimise the gap between espoused and theory-in-use.

Fig. 1: Single and double-loop learning (Adapted from: Argyris et al. 1985)

Accordingly, Meziro (1991, quoted in Bunning 1995) draws attention to the need to address
three elements through the reflective process: i) content, the substantive issues involved; ii) process,
how such issues were raised and addressed; and iii) premises, which are the values, assumptions,
paradigms and whole framework of individual and collective mindsets, which inevitably influenced
what was attended to and what was not, and other issues such as goals, process and interpretation.
Developing double-loop problem solving approaches is thus a critical part of changing
people's actions in respect to the environment. However, it also requires the action researcher to deal
with the defenses of individuals and organisations -- which is no small undertaking! In many cases
this will mean having to address situations in which participants may feel embarrassed or threatened.
However, as Grudens-Schuck (1998 ) points out, unless research and education programs build
specific processes for confronting people about unworkable theories and organizational defenses, the
use of local knowledge and interpretations of events cannot be a sound foundation for collaborative
learning and positive change.

6. Summing Up
This Unit has presented an overview of action research as a methodological approach to
solving social problems. The principles and procedures of this type of research, and epistemological
underpinnings, were described, along with the evolution of the practice. Details of a search
conference and other tools were given, as was an indication of the roles and ethics involved in the
research. The case studies gave concrete examples of projects, particularly in the relatively new area
of social deployment of information technologies. Further action research is needed to explore the
potential for developing computer-mediated communications in a way that will enhance human
interactions.

7. Key Words
Action research is a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals working
with others in teams or as part of a "community of practice" to improve the way they address issues
and solve problems. Action research can also be undertaken by larger organizations or institutions,
assisted or guided by professional researchers, with the aim of improving their strategies, practices,
and knowledge of the environments within which they practice.
Action learning is an educational process whereby the participant studies their own actions and
experience in order to improve performance. This concept is close to learning-by-doing and teaching
through examples and repetitions.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is an organizational development process or philosophy that engages
individuals within an organizational system in its renewal, change and focused performance. AI is
based on the assumption that organizations change in the way they inquire and the claim that an
organization which inquires into problems or difficult situations will keep finding more of the same
but an organization which tries to appreciate what is best in itself will find/discover more and more of
what is good.
Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals
and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.
Participatory action research or Action research is a recognized form of experimental research
that focuses on the effects of the researcher's direct actions of practice within a participatory
community with the goal of improving the performance quality of the community or an area of
concern.

8. Know your Progress


1)

Explain and define action research.

2)

What are the four basic themes in action research?

3)

When is Action Research used?

4)

What are the challenges for the action researcher?

9. Further Reading / References


Participatory Action Research Network (PARNet) (not active as of Feb. 2007)
Action Research Journal. Sage Publications. ISSN 1741-2617
Bessette, Guy. 2004. Involving the community: a Guide to Participatory Development
Communication. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre. 162pp. ISBN 155250-066-7
Braun, A. and H. Hocde. 1998. Farmer Participatory research in Latin America; Four Cases ACIAR
Proceedings.
Carr, W. & Kremmis, S.(1986). Becoming Critical: Education, Knowledge, and Action Research.
London: Falmer Press
Brydon-Miller, M. "Why action research?" In Action Research Volume 1(1): 928.SAGE
Publications London, Thousand Oaks CA, New Delhi www.sagepublications.co.uk .
Burns, D. 2007. Systemic Action Research: A strategy for whole system change. Bristol: Policy Press
Chambers, R. 1994. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA): Analysis of Experience. World
Development 22(9):1253-1268.
Chambers, R. 1983. Rural Development: Putting the Last First, London: Longman. ISBN 0-58264443-7.
Checkland, P., Holwell, S. (1998). Action Research: Its Nature and Validity. Systemic Practice and
Action Research, Volume 11, (Issue 1, Feb), p 9-21.
Coghlan, D., & Brannick, T. (2007). Doing action research in your own organisation. Thousand
Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications.
Cooke, Bill and Kothari, Uma. (eds) 2001. Participation: The New Tyranny? London: Zed.
Dick, B. (2002). Action research: Action and research Accessed on Feb 3, 2007
Doherty C, & Hope W. (2000). "Shared governance--nurses making a difference." Journal of Nursing
Management 2000 March 8(2):77-81.
Eisenberg, E. M., Baglia, J., & Pynes, J. E. (2006). Transforming emergency medicine through
narrative: Qualitative action research at a community hospital. Health Communication, 19, 197-208.

Escobar, Arturo. 1992. Culture, economics, and politics in Latin American social movements theory
and research, pp. 6285 in Arturo Escobar and Sonia Alvarez (eds.), The Making of Social
Movements in Latin America. Boulder: Westview Press.
Fals-Borda, O., & Rahman, M. A. (Eds.). (1991). Action and Knowledge: Breaking the Monopoly
with Participatory Action-Research (1st ed.). New York: Apex Press.
Gramsci. A (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks. Q. Hoare and G. Nowell Smith (Eds. &
trans.). New York, NY: International Publishers.
Greenwood, D. J., Gonzlez Santos, J. L. i Cantn, J. (1991) Industrial democracy as process:
participatory action research in the Fagor Cooperative Group of Mondragn,
Assen/Maastricht-Stockholm: Van Gorcum Arbetslivscentrum.
Hickey, S., and Mohan, G. (2005). Participation: From Tyranny to Transformation? Exploring New
Approaches to Participation in Development.
Hult, M., and Lennung, S. (1980). "Towards a Definition of Action Research: A Note and
Bibliography," Journal of Management Studies (17:2), 1pp. 242250.
Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (1988). The action research planner. Geelong, Victoria, Australia:
Deakin University Press.
Kemmis, S., & McTaggart, R. (2000). Participatory action research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S.
Lincoln(Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed., pp. 567605). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Lunch, Chris & Nick. 2006. Insights into Participatory Video: a handbook for the field. Oxford:
Insight - free pdf download available
Madhu, Towards a Praxis Model of Social Work: A Reflexive Account of Praxis Intervention with
the Adivasis of Attappady unpublished PhD Thesis, 2005
Masters, J. (1995) The History of Action Research in I. Hughes (ed) Action Research Electronic
Reader, The University of Sydney, Accessed online on Feb 2, 2007 at
http://www.behs.cchs.usyd.edu.au/arow/Reader/rmasters.htm[dead link].
McIntyre, A. (2008). Participatory action research (paperback ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage
Publications.
McTaggart, Robin. 1989. 16 Tenets of Participatory Action Research.
McNiff, (2002) Action research for professional development. Accessed online Feb 2, 2007
Narayan, D. 1996. What is Participatory Research? In Toward Participatory Research.
Washington, D.C. World Bank. p. 17-30.
O'Brien, Rory. 1998. An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research.

O'Brien, R. (2001). An overview of the methodological approach of action research In Roberto


Richardson (Ed.), Theory and Practice of Action Research. Joo Pessoa, Brazil: Universidade Federal
da Paraba. (English version) Accessed online on Feb. 2, 2007 from .Participatory Learning and
Action series Peer reviewed informal journal. Free downloads available
Pretty, J.N., Guijt, I., Thompson, J., and Scoones, I. (1995) "Participatory Learning and Action: A
trainer's guide." London: International Institute for Environment and Development
Pound, B., S. Snapp, C. McDougall, and A. Braun (eds.). 2003. Managing Natural Resources for
Sustainable Livelihoods: Uniting Science and Participation. Ottawa: Earthscan/IDRC. 260pp. ISBN
1-55250-071-3.
Quigley, B., 2000, ?The practitioner-research: a research revolution in literacy?, Adult Learning, 11
(3), 6-8.
Rocheleau, D.E. 1994. Participatory Research and the Race to Save the Planet: Questions, Critique,
and Lessons from the Field Agriculture and Human Values, Spring-Summer 1994, 25 pp.
Reason, P. & Bradbury, H. (Eds.) (2001) Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and
Practice, Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA, 512p
Selener, D. 1997. Farmer Participatory Research. In Participatory Action Research and Social
Change. Ithaca, New York: The Cornell Participatory Action Research Network, Cornell University.
p. 149-195.
Seymour-Rolls, Kaye and Ian Hughes. 2000. Participatory Action Research: Getting the Job Done.
Action Research E-Reports, 4.
Stringer, E. T. (2004). "Action Research in Education". Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Education, Inc.
Stringer, E. T. (2007). Action research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications.
Tracy, S. J. (2007). Taking the plunge: A contextual approach to problem-based research.
Communication Monographs, 74, 106 111.
Triulzi, L. 2001. Empty and populated landscapes: the Bedouin of the Syrian Arab Republic between
"development" and "state". Land Reform, Land Settlement and Cooperatives, (2), 30-47.
Vernooy, Ronnie. 2003. Seeds that Give: Participatory Plant Breeding. Ottawa: International
Development Research Centre. 100pp. ISBN 1-55250-014-4.
Wadsworth, Yolanda. 1998. What is Participatory Action Research? Action Research International,
Paper 2.
Whyte, W. F. (Ed.). (1989). Action research for the twenty-first century: participation, reflection, and
practice (Vol. 32; No.5).American Behavioural Scientist 499-623.

10. Model Answers


Q. 1 Explain and define action research.
A. 1) Action research is a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individuals
working with others in teams or as part of a "community of practice" to improve the way they address
issues and solve problems. Action research or participatory action research is a recognized form
of experimental research that focuses on the effects of the researcher's direct actions of practice
within a participatory community with the goal of improving the performance quality of the
community or an area of concern. Put simply, action research is learning by doing - a group of
people identify a problem, do something to resolve it, see how successful their efforts were, and if not
satisfied, try again. While this is the essence of the approach, there are other key attributes of action
research that differentiate it from common problem-solving activities that we all engage in every day.
A more succinct definition is,
"Action research...aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate
problematic situation and to further the goals of social science simultaneously. Thus, there is a dual
commitment in action research to study a system and concurrently to collaborate with members of the
system in changing it in what is together regarded as a desirable direction. Accomplishing this twin
goal requires the active collaboration of researcher and client, and thus it stresses the importance of
co-learning as a primary aspect of the research process."
2)
The four basic themes in action research include: i) collaboration through participation; ii)
acquisition of knowledge; iii) social change; and iv) empowerment of participants.

Q.2. What are the four basic themes in action research?


A.
1)
Action research is used in real situations, rather than in contrived, experimental studies, since
its primary focus is on solving real problems. It can, however, be used by social scientists for
preliminary or pilot research, especially when the situation is too ambiguous to frame a precise
research question. Mostly, though, in accordance with its principles, it is chosen when circumstances
require flexibility, the involvement of the people in the research, or change must take place quickly or
holistically.
2)
The challenge for the action researcher lies in the fact that learning can be difficult, even at an
individual level. Accepting new information that challenges the way we think and the things we do is,
even with the best of will, difficult to undertake, to accomplish, and to sustain.

BLOCK 2: Guidelines for Preparation of


Concept Notes and Research Proposal
Introduction
The main purpose of this Block is to inspire and guide aspiring and new practitioners of Research and
Development to learn, reflect and constantly refine the way they work. The primary objective of this
Block is to enable the students to understand the importance writing a concept note, and also how to
write a good research proposal. This Block also helps the students in understanding the common
mistakes which they might make while preparing research proposals.
Most funding organizations first requires a concept note before you submit a research proposal
because this should help to ensure that your idea for the project is a good one and the way you want
to go about the project is feasible. However, you will have to spend time carefully thinking and
planning the research, as the planning of the research project is very important. How well you plan
the research will largely influence how good the actual research project is. The planning is perhaps
the most critical stage of the research project. This should reduce the risk of you preparing a full
proposal that is rejected by the funding organizations.
Therefore, in the Block 2, we have provided the following three units.
Unit 1: Guidelines for Preparing
Concept Notes
Unit 2: How to Design Your Research Proposal
Unit 3: Common Mistakes and Problems in Research Proposal Writing
This three-unit Block shall enable you to appreciate the various critical issues that are associated with
preparation of concept note, avoiding common mistakes in the preparation of concept notes, and
writing a good research proposal.
Unit 1 discusses about the concept note, how to prepare a concept note, what is a project. The
guidelines given in this unit should enable you to write a concise concept note on a research topic that
you intend to undertake.
Unit 2 deals with how to write a good research proposal and argues that a good research proposal is
an explicit, coherent and well-grounded description of your research. The proposal should tell the
reader what you aim to do, why your study is worth doing (how it is new, interesting, useful) and
how you intend to carry out your project.
Unit 3 argues that ones research is only as a good as one's proposal. An ill-conceived proposal
dooms the project. A high quality proposal, on the other hand, promises success for the project. A
research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that
you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it. Generally, a research proposal should

contain all the key elements involved in the research process and include sufficient information for
the readers to evaluate the proposed study. In this unit, we shall discuss about the common mistakes
that one encounters in writing good research proposals.

UNIT 1: GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING CONCEPT NOTES


Structure
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.

Introduction
Objectives
Concept note
What is a project?
How to Prepare a Concept Note
10 steps in making concept notes
Summing up
Keywords
Know your Progress
Further Readings / References
Model Answers

1. Introduction
In this unit, we shall discuss about the concept note, how to prepare a concept note, what is a
project. The guidelines given in this unit should enable you to write a concise concept note on a
research topic that you intend to undertake.

2. Objectives
After studying this unit, you should be able to:

Appreciate what is a concept note;


What are the characteristics of a good concept note
Defining a project;
How to write a concept note

3. What is A Concept Note?


A concept note is a brief summary of a project. A concept note (or a concept paper, as some people
call it) is a short version of a project proposal. A concept note for submission to a donor is ideally
between 3 to 7 pages long. The concept note should:

Spell out the research problem, outlining the background, methodology and location of
fieldwork;
Introduce the principal researcher and other researchers involved in the project, their
qualifications, and their previous research experience and publications;
Follow the framework laid out below;
Not contain a detailed literature review and a budget, and
It must not be more than 550 words - using single spaced paragraphs and font size 12 in
Microsoft Word.

4. What is a Project?
Definition: Project
A project is a combination of inputs managed in a certain way to achieve one or more desired outputs,
and ultimately one or more desired impact. Here is a nice metaphor to illustrate the definition of a
project and its components as described in a concept note:
Cooks are constantly designing and implementing projects. Ingredients (inputs) are cooked
(managed) according to a recipe (work plan) to achieve a warm, balanced meal (output), and a happy
feeling or fullness and wellbeing (impact).

5. How to Prepare a Concept Note


A concept note has a specific format. The final version of the concept note has the following
headings:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Title
Background
Objectives
Outputs
Activities and duration
Beneficiaries and impacts
Project management (includes monitoring and evaluation)
Budget

However, the concept note should be prepared in the final format order. Instead prepare the concept
note in the following order:
i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.
vii.
viii.

Objectives
Inputs
Activities and duration
Outputs
Beneficiaries and impacts
Project management
Draft budget
Background

ix.
x.
xi.

The problem and why it is urgent (for the background section)


What has already been done (for the background section)
Title

6. 10 steps in making concept notes


Step 1. Objectives (what do you want to do?)
The objectives are the single most important part of your project design. They tell the reader what it is
you want to do. They are one of the first parts of the concept note that your reader will look at. You
need to think very carefully about your objectives before you start to write.
An ideal way to start is to get a small group of colleagues together to brainstorm with you. Try to get
colleagues from different disciplines to enrich your discussions. Say what it is you have in mind, and
then take an hour or more to throw out ideas and write them all on a flipchart. From these ideas you
should be able to select those that really express what it is you want to do in your project.
Project objectives should a) correspond to a core problem, b) define the strategy to overcome the
problem, and c) contribute to the achievement of higher-level development goals.
Before brainstorming the project objectives, reflect on the underlying problems and areas of work
which the project is trying to resolve. The problems should be clear. To explain the objective, the
core problem is re-formulated from a negative statement into a positive statement, e.g., if the problem
is "low maize yield," the objective will be positively re-formulated as "increased maize yields."
Then the objective will be detailed further. Often a problem may be overcome by using various
strategies to find a solution. For example, the objective "Increased maize yields in drought-prone
areas" may be achieved by a) adopting drought-tolerant maize varieties, or by b) improving
agronomic or farming practices. The choice of strategy has to be made according to the constraints
underlying the core problem, which have been assessed in the field. Considering criteria like:
resource availability, time needed, likelihood of success to carry out the work. The project objectives
should clearly show which strategy the project will pursue.
A donor may not fund the project unless the project contributes to a development goal. Therefore the
statement of the objective has to indicate in what way the project will contribute to development (e.g.
food security in the area; improved health).
The full hierarchy of objectives, including the contribution to a development goal for the example we
used above, may read like this:

National Development Goal: Increase nutritional health of the population


Program Objective: Increase average maize yields per hectare
Project Objective: Drought-tolerant maize varieties adopted

When formulating objectives, keep in mind that objectives should be SMART!!


S
M
A
R
T

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic
Time bound

Each objective should specify the QUANTITY of achievements (e.g., numbers of beneficiaries, area
covered by project), and the QUALITY (e.g., poor farmers, marginal lands, drought-tolerant
varieties). Objectives should also include an indication of TIME when the objective will be achieved
(e.g., in January 2008, three years after the start of the project). Remember objectives are more
achievable if quality, quantity and time are clarified.
Step 2. Inputs (What do you need to achieve the objectives?)
The inputs you will need to implement your project (i.e. achieve your objectives) may include:

people (researchers, broadcasters, and other partners staff-time)


travel costs (bus tickets, meals allowance)
vehicles (rental, petrol, drivers time)
equipment (tools, office)
supplies (paper, seed, fertilizer, etc.)
services (phone, fax, e-mail, etc.)
facilities (radio station, offices, demonstration sites)

Some inputs may come from many different partners, e.g. farmer groups, individual farm families,
other NGOs, international organizations, donor groups, government agencies, etc. Remember that all
partners will also have travel, supplies, services and other input requirements.
You will only need a list of inputs to prepare your budget. It does not appear in a section of the
concept note UNLESS you have substantial inputs from another donor or the community. But you
will need to brainstorm all costs and inputs to arrive at a realistic set of activities and budget.
Step 3. Activities and Duration (What will you do? How long will it take?)
Describe (in summary only for a concept note) what you and your partners plan to do to achieve the
project objectives. Remember that donors are mostly geared up to supporting projects of three years.
Tips:

Be brief and clear


Be positive use the future tense and the active voice
Do not use "we" (use "the project")

Important note: in the full proposal each activities section sentence should explain who will do
what, when, and how.
Step 4. Outputs (What will have been achieved at the end of the project?)
The outputs of the project should be directly related to the project objectives. Outputs may include:

events, such as workshops or harvests


intangible things, like decisions
tangible things, like new buildings
information, perhaps in the form of publications or videos

It is worth spending time with colleagues, partners, and friends brainstorming all the possible outputs,
as well as those directly related to the objectives.
Key outputs that are achieved during the life of the project may be useful milestones that you can
refer to when writing the full proposal.
Step 5. Beneficiaries and Impacts (Who will benefit from the project and how?)
Brainstorm this section with the design team or other colleagues. Think of all the possible groups who
may benefit from project activities and as many different benefits as may occur.
Impact is what the donor is "buying." In making promises about the impact of a project, you need to:

describe the benefits you expect, how many of them can be expected, and when and where
they will occur.
present your reasoning for why you expect the benefits to accrue to a given group if
necessary, state the assumptions you are making.
consider whether to suggest that the project will have either an impact assessment component
or will be assessed by a separate impact measurement project.

Possible beneficiary groups

Poor individuals (age? sex? location?)


Farm families (including dependents)
Refugees
Poor urban consumers
Other population groups

Benefits also accrue to radio stations, NGOs, and other organizations, but you should play down these
(although not omit them altogether) and play up the benefits to partners such as farmers and their
organizations who are the poorest and the target of the donors development aims.
Show impact in terms of the Development Goals, such as:

poverty alleviation
food security
preserving the environment
improved nutrition and health

Develop your own impact checklist


Will your project result in:

more education for the poor?


higher family incomes?
better health for poor families?
gender-specific or age-specific impact?
enhanced community participation?
new use of indigenous knowledge?
more public sector accountability?
inputs for improved decision-making?
new food source for the urban poor?
new jobs created?
import substitution?
other economic benefits? Which sectors?
improved child nutrition?
other human benefits?

Important note: Explain how you will measure the above. Impacts that can be quantified are the
most impressive, and are more likely to sell your project to the donor.
Step 6. Project Management (How will you achieve the objectives? How will the project be
managed and evaluated?)
The best objectives in the world can only achieve the desired outputs and impacts if the project can be
effectively managed. Your design needs to include a plan covering the roles and responsibilities of
the various people who will manage the project. In a concept note you need only to briefly describe
who will lead the project and who will be responsible (and when) for the main project tasks including
financial management, monitoring and evaluation.
Step 7. Budget
Unwillingness to prepare project budgets is one of the two most common failings of inexperienced
project designers. Even top-quality projects will not get funded if their cost estimates are unrealistic,
overly greedy, or full of gaps that will cause future delays and frustrations.
Budget preparation skills are an essential tool for all who seek funds to implement good science
projects.

Go back to your list of inputs. Remember to make an allowance (as generous as you have been to
yourself) for the budget of possible partners, and to include indirect costs for both you and your
partners. If your project will receive funds from other sources (in kind from beneficiaries and
partners, contributions from the radio stations core program, etc.), be sure to highlight these
contributions in the concept note and perhaps mention them in the covering letter.
Depending on its size, your project may be approved by a donor in the field or at its headquarters.
Field approval is usually much quicker and easier to obtain.
Be sure to include and label all projects costs, even if you are not asking for money for them in your
concept note. It is very important for all parties to understand the true and full project costs, and to
avoid hidden expenses.
Important note: Remember that nothing is so frustrating as an under-funded project due to a poorly
designed budget. For this reason you should develop a budget which is as accurate as possible to
include in your concept note.
Step 8. Background Material
In the concept note, organize background material in two sections.
1. Under "The Problem and Why It is Urgent", discuss the project in terms of Development
Goals of poverty alleviation, food security, preservation of the environment, and nutrition and
health. In this section provide background statistics if available, citing sources, writing in a
general sort of style.
2. Under "What Has Already Been Done", be sure not to focus only on only one organizations
activities. Donors will want you to acknowledge the contributions others have made and are
still making some may be organizations that they are supporting; some may be your
proposed partners. (If this is a follow-on project or second phase, describe the outcomes of the
earlier work in detail.)
Step 9. Selecting a Good Title
Titles need to be catchy, informative, and distinctive. Try using a two-part title. The first part should
be short, snappy, catchy; the second part can be more serious and informative. Test your title out with
a few colleagues.
Examples:

Fishers for the Future: radio listening groups for fishermen and fisher mongers in India
Mothers of Invention: sharing ideas for business women in India
Why do the Chickens Die? Communicating low-cost and simple techniques for improved
poultry raising
Did We Make a Difference? Assessment of past and expected impact of FM Radio 91.1s
work (2005-2009)

7. Summing Up
A Concept Note is perhaps the shortest expression your project idea given on paper to a
donor. It is usually requested by the donor in situations where no proposals have been solicited from
NGOs. Most of the donor agencies prefer to understand the project through a Concept Note rather
than a full-fledged proposal. We need to remember that it is the shortest possible text for our project
idea. So, shorter the better. Most donor agencies request a minimum of one page to a maximum of
three pages.
Usually donors do not have a format for a Concept Note as they have for a full proposal. But, there
are some agencies, which issue solicitation for Concept Notes based upon a basic format given in the
guidelines. Concept Note has many advantages for NGOs seeking funds. It practically gives a
framework for ideas when they are organized on paper. It is also the first expression of the project
and gives the flexibility for the organization to work and re-work on idea before presenting it to the
donor.

8. Keywords
Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of
ideas for the solution of a problem. In 1953 the method was popularized by Alex Faickney Osborn in
a book called Applied Imagination. Osborn proposed that groups could double their creative output
with brainstorming.
Budget: A Budget is a plan that outlines an organization's financial and operational goals. So a
budget may be thought of as an action plan; planning a budget helps a business allocate resources,
evaluate performance, and formulate plans.
While planning a budget can occur at any time, for many businesses, planning a budget is an annual
task, where the past year's budget is reviewed and budget projections are made for the next three or
even five years.
Concept Note: A concept note is a brief summary of a project. A concept note (or a concept paper, as
some people call it) is a short version of a project proposal.
Input: Input is a term that refers specifically to any particular item, product, or mechanism that refers
to an internal or external device that can be used for the purposes of triggering the progression of a
particular process.
Output: When all is said and done, the ultimate measurement as to the success and failure of a
project is determined based on the quality, the quantity, and the timeliness of the deliverables of all
sorts that are provided at the conclusion of the project. The sum total of the deliverables as well as
other unique post project outlays are referred to by the project management term output.
Project: A project is a combination of inputs managed in a certain way to achieve one or more
desired outputs, and ultimately one or more desired impact.

Project objectives: The objectives are the single most important part of your project design. They tell
the reader what it is you want to do. They are one of the first parts of the concept note that your
reader will look at. You need to think very carefully about your objectives before you start to write.
Project objectives should a) correspond to a core problem, b) define the strategy to overcome the
problem, and c) contribute to the achievement of higher-level development goals.
Project Management: Program management or programme management is the process of managing
several related projects, often with the intention of improving an organization's performance. Program
management also emphasises the coordinating and prioritizing of resources across projects, managing
links between the projects and the overall costs and risks of the program.

9. Know your Progress


1)

What is a project? How is the concept note related to a project?

2)

Describe the format in which the concept note should be prepared.

3)

When formulating objectives, what are the important elements that need to be kept in mind?

4)

In the concept note, how do you organize the background material?

10. Further Readings / References


Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G, and Williams Joseph M. The Craft of
Research. Chicago, University of Chicago Press
Cooksey, Brian and Alfred Lokuji (1995). Some Practical Research Guidelines,
REPOA Special Paper 12, REPOA, Dar es Salaam, December
Kikula, Idris and Martha A S Qorro (2007). 'Common Mistakes and Problems in
Research Proposal Writing: A Review of Proposals for Research Grants
Submitted to REPOA', Special Paper , Dar es Salaam.
Punch, Keith F. (2000). Developing Effective Research Proposals. London,
Sage Publications Ltd.
Wangwe, Samuel and Apronius Mbilinyi (2006). 'The Review of Evaluation
Processes for Research Proposals and Research Outputs at REPOA,
Final Report to REPOA, Daima Associates Ltd., July
Source Link: http://www.fundsforngos.org/concept-note/how-to-write-a-conceptnote/#ixzz0n917UxvA

11. Model Answers


1)

What is a project and? How is the concept note related to a project?

A project is a combination of inputs managed in a certain way to achieve one or more desired outputs,
and ultimately one or more desired impact. And the concept note is a brief summary of a project. A
concept note (or a concept paper, as some people call it) is a short version of a project proposal.
2)

Describe the format in which the concept note should be prepared.

A concept note has a specific format. The final version of the concept note has the following
headings:
9. Title
10. Background
11. Objectives
12. Outputs
13. Activities and duration
14. Beneficiaries and impacts
15. Project management (includes monitoring and evaluation)

3.

When formulating objectives, keep in mind that objectives should be SMART!!


S
M
A
R
T

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic
Time bound

Each objective should specify the QUANTITY of achievements (e.g., numbers of beneficiaries, area
covered by project), and the QUALITY (e.g., poor farmers, marginal lands, drought-tolerant
varieties). Objectives should also include an indication of TIME when the objective will be achieved
(e.g., in January 2008, three years after the start of the project). Remember objectives are more
achievable if quality, quantity and time are clarified.
4.

In the concept note, organize background material in two sections.


a.

b.

Under "The Problem and Why It is Urgent", discuss the project in terms of Development
Goals of poverty alleviation, food security, preservation of the environment, and nutrition and
health. In this section provide background statistics if available, citing sources, writing in a
general sort of style.
Under "What Has Already Been Done", be sure not to focus only on only one organizations
activities. Donors will want you to acknowledge the contributions others have made and are
still making some may be organizations that they are supporting; some may be your
proposed partners. (If this is a follow-on project or second phase, describe the outcomes of the
earlier work in detail.)

Unit-2: HOW TO DESIGN YOUR RESEARCH PROPOSAL


Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. What is a Research Proposal?
3.1 Why write it ?
3.2 How to start writing it?
4. An Overview of the Proposal
5. What does a Proposal look like?
5.1 Introduction:
5.2 Problem statement
5.3 Objectives
5.4 Methodology
5.5 Time schedule
5.6 Evaluation
5.6.1 Goal or objective achievement
5.6.2 Immediate post program success
5.7 Budget
5.7.1 Typical line item costs
5.7.2 Cash flow
5.7.3 Future funding
5.8 Appendices
6. Summing up
7. Keywords
8. Know your Progress
9. Further Reading / References
10. Model Answers

1. Introduction
Most students and beginning researchers do not fully understand what a research proposal
means, nor do they understand its importance. To put it bluntly, one's research is only as a good as
one's proposal. An ill-conceived proposal dooms the project even if it somehow gets through the
Thesis Supervisory Committee. A high quality proposal, on the other hand, not only promises success
for the project, but also impresses your Thesis Committee about your potential as a researcher.
A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research
project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it. Generally, a research
proposal should contain all the key elements involved in the research process and include sufficient
information for the readers to evaluate the proposed study.
Regardless of your research area and the methodology you choose, all research proposals
must address the following questions: What you plan to accomplish, why you want to do it and how
you are going to do it ?
The proposal should have sufficient information to convince your readers that you have an
important research idea, that you have a good grasp of the relevant literature and the major issues, and
that your methodology is sound.
The quality of your research proposal depends not only on the quality of your proposed
project, but also on the quality of your proposal writing. A good research project may run the risk of
rejection simply because the proposal is poorly written. Therefore, it pays if your writing is coherent,
clear and compelling.
This Unit focuses on proposal writing rather than on the development of research ideas.

2. Objectives
After studying this Unit, you should be able to:

Appreciate what is a research proposal;


Why write a research proposal;
How to start writing it?
What are the key components of a research proposal;

3. What is a Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a detailed plan of action for scientific inquiry. It clearly and
systematically presents the research problem, indicates the significance of the problem, and delineates
the specific methods and procedures that will be used to answer the research question or test the
research hypotheses. It also provides a timetable or outline for conducting the study and details the
estimated cost of the investigation. It is written as a preliminary step in the research process. It
synthesizes current knowledge, indicates gaps in knowledge, and specifies a plan to address the
problem.
The research proposal can serve many useful functions. The most important is that it helps
you to think out the research project and predict any difficulties that might arise. For those who arent
sure what their focus will be, the research proposal can be a space to explore options. Writing
multiple proposals or drafts will help you to develop and focus your inquiry and to decide how to
proceed efficiently.
A good research proposal is an explicit, coherent and well-grounded description of your
research. The proposal should tell the reader what you aim to do, why your study is worth doing
(how it is new, interesting, useful) and how you intend to carry out your project ?
Hence, your proposal should :

State the topic and purpose of your study clearly and concisely.

Describe the place of your research within a field of study.

Relate your work to previous research and specify how your study will contribute to it show
how your study is relevant to different audiences (eg. Other researchers or practitioners).

Give a description of the research questions your study addresses and the methods you have
chosen to address the problem or question of your choice (research design).

Give an outline of the overall work plan; aims and targets and the timeframe within which you
aim to achieve these targets.

Note that the proposal is NOT the final and definite plan of your project; it will be revised and
developed as you make progress with your work.

3.1 Why write it?

Writing a proposal helps you develop and organize your thoughts.

Writing also helps to revise your original ideas through considering different options and their
usefulness for your purposes.

Different versions of the proposal help your supervisor to follow your progress and give
advice and guidance when you need it.

Get started with the work itself; what you write in the proposal can be revised, expanded,
developed and used in the thesis itself.

As you write different versions of the proposal, it is easier to organize and manage your work
and proceed step by step.

The ability to draw up (and carry out) a good plan or outline for a project is a useful
professional skill in itself.

3.2 How to start writing it ?

Start with collecting your ideas: make notes, draw a mind map, put together an idea paper
where you collect your thoughts on the topic of your choice.

Take a look at thesis already completed in your area to get an idea of what can be done and
how other people have approached the task.

Talk to your classmates, brainstorm with them, talk to your Supervisor about what you need
to rethink or revise.

Write up a first draft where you try to include as many of the points above as you can.

Identify questions that you cannot answer yet, but dont get worried about them : just show
how you intend to deal with them (for example, if you have not made a plan for collecting
data, try to show the reader that you are in the process of planning it and considering different
options).

Present your draft to other students and your Supervisor for comments and suggestions.

Use these comments and suggestions to write a second, improved draft.

4. An Overview of the Proposal


Every grant proposal should include the information in the following ten key components. If
the program requires you to complete a preset form, you should endeavor to place the substance of
the information within the appropriate section, using the headings and subheadings of the form.
However, if the program allows you to select your own format, the following is a list of the sections
(given in sequence) that you can use to structure your proposal:
Covering Letter: On organization letterhead, the covering letter briefly summarises need, the
proposed program, the organization's qualifications and a small sales pitch.

Title Page: Includes project title, name of applicant, name of agency submitted to, signature, typed
name and title of authorized personnel approving submission and date of approval. If your proposal is
lengthy, keep in mind that some grant reviewers like to see a Table of Contents page following the
Title Page, with tabs on each section within the application, to enhance user-friendliness.
Summary: Synopsis of project objectives, procedures, evaluation. Try to catch the "flavor" of the
project in approximately 250 words. Remember, this may be the only part reviewers read in the body
of the proposal, and this language may be used verbatim by the reviewer to describe or explain your
application to the board or other internal review/approval entity.
Introduction: Tell what needs to be done and why. Mention the general theory upon which the
project is based. If unique, it should be asserted here. If new or uncommon terms are used in the
proposal, explain their meaning here.
Problem statement: State why this problem needs to be addressed and provide references to
research, statistics, previous projects or other documentation to support the need for the project.
Objectives: State the proposed outcome of the project in clearly specified and measurable terms.
Each objective is usually related to (1) a need identified in the introduction section; (2) activities in
the methodology section; and (3) activities in the evaluation section.
Methodology: At this point, you want to describe the problem in terms of the methods you will use
in combating it and why you are choosing this strategy. It is here that specific activities are described,
as well as those action steps that will be used to achieve the objectives.
Evaluation: Provide details on how the organization and the funding source will determine whether
the project has accomplished its objectives. Include the type of evaluation information to be collected,
how it will be analyzed and a pattern for its dissemination and use. Care should be taken to strengthen
this section and provide evaluation criteria for each objective.
Future orientation: Discuss all topics relevant to the future of the project, whether its timeframe is
limited or if the intent is to continue or expand the project beyond the project time period. How will
continuation be done - what future funding has been lined up?
Budget: State the proposed project costs in a table or spread sheet format. Every item should be
carefully documented. Request as much money as you need to complete the project adequately
(asking for too little money can be as bad as asking for too much). The reviewers will likely know
what is a reasonable amount to conduct the project activities.
Appendices: Include all required support documentation deemed necessary by the funding source.
One of the ironies of grant planning and writing is that it costs time and money to prepare a
good proposal, yet it is difficult to obtain funds until after the grant is approved. There are a few
foundations and some government grant programs which will provide specific planning grants. This
possibility should be explored. If you already have received a grant, give some thought to how you
can use current resources for planning for the next grant application.

Now let's take a look at several of the proposal sections individually:


Covering Letter
The first paragraph of the covering letter tells the funding agency who you are and what you
do, preferably in 25 words or less. The next paragraph states the problem to be addressed by your
project. From there the solution or method to address the project is described along with the total
project cost and the requested amount. The last paragraph demonstrates your excitement for the
project and attempts to convince the funding source to provide financial support for the project. The
letter should be signed by your board chairman according to proper protocol. The executive director
should only sign the letter as an "agent" of the board, with a declaration as such under the director's
signature, e.g., "Jean Jones, Executive Director, for the Board."
Summary
The summary will appear at the beginning of your proposal but should not be written until
after you have completed the proposal. You will then have a clear idea of what is to be distilled and
summarized. A good summary:
- Identifies the applicant organization and establishes its credibility;
- States the need or problem to be addressed;
- Outlines the objectives of the funding;
- Outlines the specific activities to meet these objectives;
- Specifies the time period during which the activities will be accomplished; and
- Gives dollar figures for the total project cost, and the percentage of funds already committed, with
the amount asked for in the proposal.
Remember: BE SPECIFIC, SIMPLE, AND CLEAR! Keep in mind that the summary is
probably the first thing read by a funding source. As such, you will want to put your best foot forward
and hook the reader into wanting to delve deeper into your written presentation. So although it may
be the last section written, the summary should reflect your best persuasive argument for funding
your project.

5. What does a Proposal look like?


This depends, to some extent, on the nature of your study and the field that you are working
in; you can also follow your own preferences for presenting your ideas as long as you take into
account that the reader needs to get a clear picture of what your study is about. It may be useful to
follow the guidelines below:

5.1 Introduction
The main purpose of the introduction is to provide the necessary background or context for
your research problem. How to frame the research problem is perhaps the biggest problem in
proposal writing.

If the research problem is framed in the context of a general, rambling literature review, then
the research question may appear trivial and uninteresting. However, if the same question is placed in
the context of a very focused and current research area, its significance will become evident.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules on how to frame your research question just as
there is no prescription on how to write an interesting and informative opening paragraph. A lot
depends on your creativity, your ability to think clearly and the depth of your understanding of
problem areas.
However, try to place your research question in the context of either a current "hot" area, or an
older area that remains viable. Secondly, you need to provide a brief but appropriate historical
backdrop. Thirdly, provide the contemporary context in which your proposed research question
occupies the central stage. Finally, identify "key players" and refer to the most relevant and
representative publications. In short, try to paint your research question in broad brushes and at the
same time bring out its significance.
The introduction typically begins with a general statement of the problem area, with a focus
on a specific research problem, to be followed by the rational or justification for the proposed study.
The introduction generally covers the following elements:
1. State the research problem, which is often referred to as the purpose of the study.
2. Provide the context and set the stage for your research question in such a way as to show its
necessity and importance.
3. Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.
4. Briefly describe the major issues and sub-problems to be addressed by your research.
5. Identify the key independent and dependent variables of your experiment. Alternatively,
specify the phenomenon you want to study.
6. State your hypothesis or theory, if any.
7. Set the delimitation or boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.
8. Provide definitions of key concepts. (This is optional.)
5.2 Problem Statement
This section of your proposal is quite important because it forms the basis for your project's
development. This section describes the problem or situation in your target area that needs to be
addressed and relates it to the overall environment and its impact if not rectified or alleviated. The
problem statement relates to your constituency and their needs and not to the concerns of your agency
or organization. Take care not to exaggerate the problem or situation. You want to convince the
funding source that the problems are serious but not insurmountable in solving. Funders appreciate
the use of statistical and comparative data to demonstrate the scope of a problem; however, they do
not appreciate being overwhelmed with data. Use local sources of information. Use national data only
to the extent that you are making comparisons of the situation
with the national outlook.

To sum up this section, keep in mind that you are describing why your constituency -- not
your organization -- needs assistance. Be specific. In addition, remember:
- Never paint a picture so terrible that there is no hope of solving it.
- You are seeking to address a situation or problem as the result of a condition that exists.
- Develop your research and make sure you know your constituency's desires. Remember to include
statistical and comparative data.
- Know what other experts and program operators are doing. Develop linkages with outside groups
and organizations.
- Never provide more than one option for tackling the problem. The option you pick should be the
final, most optimal solution.

5.3 Objectives
Objectives make up the specific components of your overall goal, that which you are ultimately
trying to achieve. Objectives describe the desired end product or situation to exist at the conclusion of
the project. They should be described in terms that are measurable and quantifiable. They are the
traceable and significant connection between the problem description and the actual goods or services
provided.
Objectives should be stated using the client's point of view and deal with a terminal nature -- what the
clients will look like at the project's conclusion.
Specific objectives serve to focus organizational activity around a common purpose and provide a
benchmark of measuring program achievement. The objectives, if successfully completed, result in
the direct and lasting impact on the problems experienced by clientele. Consider that objectives
generally fall into one of three categories: input, process and impact.
Programme inputs: This type of objective identifies the quality or quantity of different resources
judged necessary to complete a program task. Examples of such objectives include: to increase the
number of industrial settings for training programs; to increase cooperation and coordination of
program services; to increase the number of intakes by 5 percent; and to increase the number who
participate in training programs.
Programme process: These objectives state that specified services, treatments, functions or tasks
were accomplished, delivered or performed in specified quantities or qualities. For example, process
objectives might include: the provision of so many units of vocational education services; a specific
number of employment development services provided, one for each eligible client; or completion of
a program recruitment process with a specific number of clients recruited.
Impact Objective: These objectives state the purpose of the program or state the benefits that will
last after participants leave the program. Examples of impact (sometimes called output) objectives
are: reduce or eliminate dependency; achieve or maintain self-sufficiency; reduce unemployment;
increase the number of workers placed in jobs; and provide an adequate income in retirement.

Objectives are easily written if one remembers the five essential parts -What: the nature of the situation to be changed, often signaled by the preposition "to" followed by an
action verb;
Who: the particular group or segment (clients, staff, components), in which or for which achievement
is desired;
Where: the geographic area or that place in which the accomplishment is desired;
When: the target date for completion of the objective or the days or times the objective is carried out;
What extent: the quality or quantity of the situation to be achieved, a measurement which can later
be used as a basis for evaluation.
Objectives are not to be confused with activities. Activities are the means used to achieve the
objectives. They are your methods. Objectives are also not to be confused with goals. Goals are
identified as statements of the broad purpose of a program and are long range desires or benefits:
objectives are more immediate or short range.
5.4 Methodology
This section describes the methods (also referred to as strategies, activities, or procedures) to be
employed to accomplish the objectives.
The methodology section of a proposal should describe in detail:
- What you are doing (activities);
- Your justification for the actions to be taken;
- The flow of activities and how long it will take to get results;
- Target population in terms of characteristics and selection process;
- Staff requirements in terms of hiring and training; and
- Start up activities required prior to full project implementation.
Projects vary most in this area and no universal prescription can be useful. However, the best
proposals will contain:
Design: The basic technique or approach to be used such as a case study, pilot program, controlled
experiment, etc.
Population recruitment: The projected participants, subjects, or beneficiaries and how they are
selected. Also describe the role they have had in planning for the proposal.
Treatment: Provide sufficient detail about the procedures to be used so the reader can understand
thoroughly.
Reporting and participant tracking: How information will be collected and who will do it. Be
specific and include copies of any special instruments in the appendix.

Management: Detail administrative structure and functions.


5.5

Time schedule

Project an approximate time schedule for carrying out the proposed project. Charts are often
useful here.
Activities are a job or a task requiring both time and resources. Activities state in
chronological order how a strategy is to be accomplished -- in other words, what needs to be done to
achieve the strategies (and therefore objectives). Activities are developed by listing each step
necessary to complete a job. To ensure that each step is listed, one should "backward chain."
Backward chaining is not easy because it requires thinking of each step in reverse order. First, list the
last step which one does to complete a job or objective, then the next to last step and so on to the step
where you are starting. This process of backward chaining will give more detail than most other
methods of listing activities.
Keep in mind that just as objectives flow from the problem statement, so too should the
methodology section flow from the objectives. Including a timetable at the end of this section would
be helpful to the reviewer in analyzing the procession of events. It will also help you to ensure that
important details have not been overlooked. However, if charts or graphs are used, make sure they
are extremely cogent so as not to detract from the body of the proposal.
5.6 Evaluation
How will you know your project is a success? How will you document your projects success?
The evaluation section of your proposal should provide answers to these questions. Decision makers
generally need evaluations of program success in order to maintain or modify their program to
achieve maximum operating efficiency. In addition, performance indicators which can be measured
before, during and after the end of the program will help predict the success of the individuals while
they are participating in the program, as well as their post-programme success.
The evaluation section is quite important to funders since they want to be able to measure the
progress of programmes and determine whether their dollars have been well spent. The inclusion of
an evaluation shows that you have an interest in upgrading your project. In summary, the evaluation
section should:
- Describe how data will be collected and progress monitored and analyzed;
- Describe the type(s) of evaluation to be conducted (product and/or process);
- Tell how records will be kept;
- Describe the evaluator: name, title, credentials and extent of impartiality;
- Outline reporting procedures; and
- Provide specific due dates for completing the evaluation.

The product evaluation measures your success in meeting the objectives of your project. Did
you meet the projected and desired statistics of your project? Were your actions indeed helpful to
your clients and are they better off as a result?
5.6.1 Goal or objective achievement: With programme goal or objective achievement, organisations
examine the degree of success in attaining each of their short-term program goals and objectives.
Goal achievement measures are used for several reasons. These measures examine program success
in relation to the needs of the program as it exists to determine program saturation. The measures
examine programme success relative to the programme as planned to arrive at design efficiency. The
measures also examine programme success relative to expenditures to measure cost efficiency.
Examples of these kinds of quantifiable measures might include: reduced costs per participant,
increase in the proportion of parents involved in training, increase in the proportion of parents who
leave public welfare, planned versus performance measure of expenditures, planned versus
performance measure of placement, and percent placed in unsubsidised jobs.
While a product evaluation measures the objectives, a process evaluation measures methods
used in working towards the goal. Was the benefit of your actions worth the cost of their
implementation? Were you meeting some higher goal with each step taken?
5.6.2 Immediate post programme success: Another type of measure is that of immediate post
programme success. These measures of performance are based on the experience of a program as
seen primarily from the client's history. Examples of this type of measure include increased
employment or reduced unemployment, increased earnings, increased labor force participation,
increased mobility of the labor force, reduced dependency on the government, and jobs filled in
geographic areas or in occupational classifications. Additional examples of types of measures used by
organisations to determine post programme success are:
- Increased proportion of parents who leave welfare based on services;
- Maximized dollar volume of annualised welfare grant reductions;
- Increased number of registrants entering employment;
- Increased average hourly wage of participants;
- Number of placements in unsubsidised jobs; and
- Increased employability based on improved attitude towards work.
Programme operating efficiency: Because some programs are designed to serve a number of
functions for the participant, organizations have developed program operating efficiency gauges to
directly observe project functions and arrive at conclusions about the program's efficiency. Examples
of the measures of program operating efficiency -- how well the program activity was performed -include several measures related to workload, some related to the capacity for work and some related
to the mix or complexity of program activities. Indicative program operations measures may be, for
example: increase intake by 5 percent over the fiscal year to a total of 670,000; and increase the
number of tests administered to a total of 24,400.
5.7 Budget

The budget may be the key to your proposal. Your organisation is asking for money and your
budget statement is the concrete way to show that you need it. Many funding agencies complain that
they often read through an entire proposal and still are not exactly sure what the organization needs in
terms of money. The requested amount, as previously pointed out, should be stated explicitly at the
beginning of your proposal. Make sure your proposal supports each item in the budget -- and that it is
clear to the reviewers what costs are associated with each activity. The budget summary and detail
justification pages should have the total project cost, broken out by requested amount (from the
funder), organisation contribution and other outside sources (combined). The following budget items
should be carefully documented:
5.7.1

Typical line item costs

Salaries and wages: This line item represents expenditures for salaries and wages. Salaries and
wages are defined as fixed payments at regular intervals to professional and clerical staff, and hourly
based payments to part-time and intermittent employees, for services performed. List each staff
position with titles, monthly or weekly salary ranges, number of persons per position, number of
months or weeks to be devoted to the project, percent of time devoted to the project and total salaries
per position.
Fringe benefits: This line item represents payments other than salaries and wages made to staff, or
paid in their behalf or on their account, as in the form of a pension, vacation, insurance, etc. List
fringe benefits for project staff, including FICA, unemployment and workers' compensation, and
hospitalization. Include computation and rate details.
Consultant and contractual services: Use for procurement contracts (except those which belong on
other lines such as equipment or supplies), and contracts or other agreements with secondary recipient
organisations such as affiliates, cooperating institutions, delegate agencies, political subdivisions, etc.
Include cost of all consultants. List fees for all legal, accounting and professional services. Provide
specific cost breakouts for each item listed.
Space costs: This line item represents payments for building and space rent, utilities, janitorial
service, general maintenance and repairs, necessary re-arrangements and alterations of facilities
which do not materially increase the value or useful life of the facility, and other related costs
necessary to provide adequate space. A cost analysis study may have to be conducted to determine
the amount of rent to be charged to the project if the project is housed within the organisation's own
facility. Other more simplified methods may be employed to determine space costs. In any event,
show the amount of space cost per month by the number of project months to determine total cost or
cost per square footage.
Equipment purchases: This line item represents payments for the purchase of non-expendable
personal property having a useful life of more than one year and a unit acquisition cost of $300-500
or more (depending on the funding agency), payments of costs associated with the transportation and
installation of non-expendable personal property purchased or to be purchased, and 26 payments
made under a lease or rental contract for non-expendable personal property where an option-topurchase provision is expected to be exercised. Check the funding source policy for limitations on
equipment purchases first; many government funders, for example, have specific requirements.

Equipment rental: List the cost of each office and program equipment item to be rented for use in
the project. Again, check the funding source policy for limitations before including these items.
Specify each item and monthly rental fee.
Consumable supplies: These items include office and program supplies such as paper, pens, typing
ribbon, folders, etc.
Utilities: The costs for electricity and gas are sometimes broken out separately from space costs. If no
specific budget format is provided you may opt for breaking these items out under a separate budget
category.
Travel: This line item represents payments for transportation, meals and lodging of staff in
accordance with the funder's policy. Check with the funding source for allowable rates for in-state
travel. Check with the funding agency beforehand about out-of-state travel. Project the total local
mileage of each staff person and also specify the purpose of such travel for each position listed. If
out-of-state travel is an allowable expense, specify the purpose of such travel, i.e., program related
activities, training, conferences.
Telecommunications: Included in this line item category are costs associated with installation and
monthly charges for telephone lines, computer phone lines, fax machines, cellular telephones, pagers
and the like.
Programme income: These are direct charges to or fees to participants of the project. Program
income must be kept in a restricted account and either returned to the granting agency or used to fund
direct costs of items needed to expand the quality or quantity of services provided. With some public
funding programmes, it can also be carried over into the following fiscal year. In some programs,
funding agencies allow programme income to be used as match.
Special project costs: These include costs specific to the project. For example, meals served to
children in a recreational program, training manuals, printing original materials and the like. Show
specific cost details for each listed item. Other Costs: Included in this budget category are such items
as office and building maintenance services, postage, repair and maintenance charges for rental
equipment, meeting costs, subscription dues, printing and publication costs, temporary help, and
insurance and bonding costs. Remember to provide specific cost breakouts for each item listed.
Overhead/indirect costs: Overhead or indirect costs are those additional costs which will be incurred
by an organisation that operates multiple programs as a result of taking on this new project. Also
known as administrative costs or facilities and utilities, these costs are determined by charging a
fixed percentage, such as 10 to 15 percent, of the total grant request, to cover such expenses as
general and unit personnel and non-personnel costs. Some public and private funding sources may
disallow these charges, so again, check with the funding source before including this category! This
line item represents costs attributed to the program's administration cost category through application
of an indirect cost rate or cost allocation plan usually required by a government funder. These costs
are not to duplicate any costs charged to the other cost line items in this section. For most government
funded programmes indirect costs may not be recovered without an approved cost allotment plan.

Matching share
In general, matching share represents that portion of project costs that is not borne by the
funding source. For government programmes a minimum percentage for matching share is usually
required depending on the program legislation. The following information may be used as a guide in
developing the matching share section of your project budget. Check with the funder to assure its
matching share requirements. Matching share may consist of:

Charges incurred by the applicant as project costs, but not paid with grant funds;
Project costs financed with cash contributed or donated to the grantee by other public and
private sources; and
Project services and borrowed or donated real or personal property, or use thereof, donated
by other public and private sources.

Cash contributions: These represent the grantee's cash outlay including the outlay of money
contributed to the grantee by private organizations, foundations, corporations, individuals, and other
public agencies and institutions (if the grantor happens to be a government funding source for the
project). When authorized by federal legislation, federal funds received from other grants may be
considered as the grantee's cash contribution. Examples of cash match are:
- Salaries and fringe benefits;
- Travel costs;
- Postage;
- Office supplies; and
- New equipment purchased (with prior grant approval).
In-kind contributions: These represent the value of noncash contributions provided by the grantee
and other outside sources. In-kind contributions may be in the form of charges for real property and
non-expendable personal property and the rental value of goods and services directly benefiting and
specifically identifiable to the project or program. Grantees with government grants may wish to
check with the funding source to secure permission to consider property purchased with government
(usually federal) funds as the grantee's in-kind contribution. Examples of in-kind matching share
include:
- Salaries and fringe benefits (of persons not directly paid by program);
- Use of depreciable equipment;
- Value of donated services; and
- Value of office space (with prior grant approval).
Volunteer services may be furnished by professional and technical personnel, consultants, and
other skilled and unskilled labor. Volunteered service may be counted as in-kind matching share if
the service is an integral and necessary part of an approved plan.
Rates for volunteers should be consistent with those paid for similar work in other activities.
In those instances in which the required skills are not found in the grantee organisation, rates should

be consistent with those paid for similar work in the labor market in which the grantee competes for
the kind of services involved.
When an employer other than the grantee furnishes the services of an employee, these services
shall be valued at the employee's regular rate of pay (exclusive of fringe benefits and overhead cost)
provided these services are in the same skill for which the employee is normally paid.
Another in-kind contribution is donated expendable personal property. Donated expendable
personal property includes such items as expendable equipment, office supplies, laboratory supplies,
or workshop and classroom supplies. Values assessed to expendable personal property included in the
cost or matching share should be reasonable and should not exceed the fair market value of the
property at the time of the donation.
The method used for charging matching share for donated non-expendable personal property,
buildings and land may differ depending upon the purpose of the grant.
If the purpose of the grant is to furnish equipment, buildings, or land to the grantee or
otherwise provide a facility, the total value of the donated property could potentially be claimed as a
matching share. If the purpose of the grant is to support activities that require the use of equipment,
buildings, or land on a temporary or part-time basis, depreciation or use charges for equipment and
buildings may be made.
The value of donated nonexpendable personal property cannot exceed the fair market value of
equipment and property of the same age and condition at the time of donation. The value of donated
space cannot exceed the fair rental value of comparable space as established by an independent
appraisal. And finally, the value of loaned equipment cannot exceed its fair rental value.
5.7.2

Cash flow
While developing a project budget, an organisation should address the question of cash flow:

The relationship of the organisation's disbursement needs with the funding or


reimbursement process of the funding agency; and
A monthly measure of actual programme expenditures versus planned programme
expenditures.

Many organisations have faced serious problems because they have overlooked these two
components of cash flow. In few instances will state or federal agencies allow "as needed"
disbursements. (A Letter of Credit from a federal agency would be an exception to this general rule.)
In many cases the state or federal agency only allows vouchers. Organizations are reimbursed for
expenses already paid out because the voucher represents payment for contracted services. This could
be contrasted to foundation or corporate grants where a specific sum of money is granted per period
based on planned project expenditures.
In any case an organisation must gauge its actual cash needs for each period (e.g., start up
periods, monthly allotments) and by each project. The organisation must also develop and send out

vouchers and disbursements in a timely manner and ensure that both are properly prepared.
Organizations must monitor cash flows in every line item to prevent serious overruns or idleness of
funds. Finally, your budget section should not be excessively long. A long presentation usually
demonstrates weak or poor organisation.

5.7.3

Future funding

This Section shows the funder that you are looking into the future. Discussion should focus on
several areas. Do you anticipate the possibility of a spin-off? In other words, what are the chances
that the project can become free-standing after the funding period? Will you seek future funding from
the same source and/or other sources? What are the implications for the project's continuation if
outside support declines? Can your organization operate the project without outside funding, and if
so, what are the plans to continue on?
What would it cost to operate any given program next year? Organisations would profit by
analysing past costs in each line item and estimating future cost of each line item considering
following :
- Inflation;
- Cost of living or other scheduled pay increases;
- Retirement benefits, vacation accrued, other fringes;
- Changes in social security deductions or workers' compensation laws; and
- Changes in rent, insurance, audits, postage, and other normal expenses.
5.8

Appendices

The items which are often included in the proposal's Appendices have been discussed in
earlier sections of this handbook. To reiterate, those items are:

Copy of the organisation's 501(c)(3) tax exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS);
List of board members, including addresses, and telephone numbers;
Copy of the organisation's most recent audit report, current financial statement and current
operating budget;
Copy of the organisation's Annual Report;
Resumes of key project staff to demonstrate qualifications and credentials;
Letters of support from established community and neighborhood organizations familiar with
the organization's work and credibility;
News clippings and releases highlighting the organisation's most recent achievements or
immediate past accomplishments; and
Brochures of the organisation describing its various programs and activities.

Make sure these items are packaged in a neat and orderly fashion. Nothing can be as frustrating to a
proposal reviewer as to have to search through a disorganized proposal package to find out if all the
required documents have been submitted. A good approach is to number and clearly label each

document or group of material as an individual Appendix, and to refer to that Appendix by number in
the body of the text.

6. Summing up
A research proposal can seem, at first, to be a mysterious document, mainly because, at early
stages in our investigations, we are not quite sure what we intend to write. We may have more or less
of a good idea about a problem that vexes us and that we intend to solve, or a research idea we want
to explore, but we havent determined yet how to satisfy this desire. The answer to this mystery lies
in the document itself, for the research proposal has two major, practical functions:

It helps you to structure your thinking about how to approach an answer to your problem.
It convinces your adviser and readers that you have thought through the parameters of your
problem and have a good strategy for solving it.

Thus, the preparation of a research proposal, far from being a chore that gets in the way of
your getting on with the task, actually provides the means of accomplishing the task, and in many
cases can serve as a first draft of the paper itself.
While there is no strict outline for a research proposal, since research projects can vary in the
shape and dynamics of gathering and analyzing information, a typical proposal will:

Identify a practical or research problem and its context, specifying

(a)

the situation that has given rise to the problem, and

(b)

the need that is met in addressing the problem.

a)
b)
c)
d)
e)

State a clearly defined research question you intend to ask in order to solve this problem. This
question should be a combination of
the subject you intend to explore;
the question you intend to answer about your subject;
the significance of your answer in solving the problem and others like it,
elaboration of the different implications of the research question, substantively linking it to
the setting in which it fits; and
Discussion of why the question is important (intellectually, practically, and theoretically).

7. Keywords
Abstract The abstract is a clear concise summary of the proposed research project. It is commonly
50350 words long and takes up no more than one page. The funding organization's guidelines
usually specify the limitations. The abstract should capture the essence of the proposal concisely and
completely. Begin with a short statement of the purpose of your study, and indicate the research

hypothesis or questions. Give the rationale for the proposed study, and describe the research design
and data analysis. Finally, offer a conclusion about the anticipated results and their significance.
Include vital details that make the proposed research original and important. Reviewers should be
able to read the abstract and know what you propose to do.
Typically, the abstract includes the following major elements:
Title of the proposal.
Name of the principal investigator (project director).
Name of the applicant's organization (institution).
Objective (purpose of the study and rationale).
Methods (procedures and research design).
Significance (contribution).
Appendixes: Appendixes are used to support the research proposal. Do not put text that is central to
the proposal in an appendix; put it in the main body of the proposal. Put supportive information and
documentation in an appendix. In the body of the proposal, be sure to include reference to support
materials.
Appropriate materials for an appendix include the following:

A work plan or detailed outline of the study timetable.

Letters of support for the project (from clinical agencies, academic facilities).

Letters of collaboration or consultation (on formal letterhead paper).

Letter of approval or clearance from the institutional review board, human subjects
committee, or animal protection committee when appropriate.

Instruments or measures that will be used in the study.

Other supportive materials as needed (e.g., expanded detail on procedures mentioned in the
body of the proposal).

Funding agencies usually provide guidelines on the types of appendices that are acceptable. If
no guidelines are provided, call the agency before including any appendix in your proposal.
Some funding agencies do not allow appendices.

Letters of support from key personnel in clinical agencies about access to subjects are critical.

A description or summary of the known characteristics of potential subjects and their


willingness to participate is encouraging for reviewers.

Documentation of previous experience and relevant expertise of the research team provides
strong support for feasibility of the study.

Covering Letter: The covering letter includes the title and content of the research proposal, the
name of the grant applied for, the name and affiliation of the investigator, and any other information
required for submission (e.g., applicant's eligibility for membership in an organization or other

qualifications). Address the cover letter to the contact person at the funding agency or, in lieu of a
contact person, the head of the agency or department. A well-written cover letter helps the agency
direct the application to reviewers whose expertise closely matches that required for the proposed
research.
Research Design The research design designates the type of inquiry that will be used to answer the
research hypotheses or questions and provides a framework for the rest of the study. The type of
design depends on the question asked; experience of the researcher; feasibility of the project; and
available resources such as time, money, staff, and access to subjects. Examples of quantitative
designs are survey, historical, single case study, descriptive, quasi-experimental, and experimental.
Examples of qualitative methods are grounded theory, hermeneutics, phenomenology, and descriptive
studies.

Research proposal: A research proposal is similar in a number of ways to a project proposal;


however, a research proposal addresses a particular project: academic or scientific research. The
forms and procedures for such research are well defined by the field of study, so guidelines for
research proposals are generally more exacting than less formal project proposals. Research
proposals contain extensive literature reviews and must offer convincing support of need for the
research study being proposed.
Variables Independent or dependent variables are combined to formulate the research questions or
hypotheses. Research questions are formulated primarily for exploratory research and ask why some
problem occurs. Usually, they are generated from three primary sources: a conceptual or theoretical
framework, experiences in nursing practice, and existing literature on the topic of interest. The
following are examples of research questions: What are the effects of 10 sec of continuous
endotracheal suctioning on heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, and respiratory rate in cardiac
surgical patients? This question contains the independent variable of 10 sec of continuous
endotracheal suctioning; the dependent variables of heart rate, mean arterial blood pressure, and
respiratory rate; and the sample population of cardiac surgical patients. What types of decisions do
family members need to make after a traumatic event? This question addresses the variables of a
traumatic event and types of decisions and includes the sample population of family members. A
research hypothesis states the expected relationship (directional or non-directional) between
independent and dependent variables. Unless otherwise indicated in the application instructions, only
the research hypothesis is stated in the proposal. However, a null hypothesis rather than a research
hypothesis may be used for statistical analysis, because a null hypothesis suggests value-free
objectivity.
References: All references cited in the research proposal should be included in a list at the end of the
research plan.

8. Know your Progress

1)
2)

What is a research proposal?


What are essential ingredients of the good research proposal?

9. Further Reading / References


American Psychological Association (APA). (2001). Publication manual of the American
Psychological Association (Fourth edition). Washington, DC: Author.
Armstrong, R. L. (1974). Hypotheses: Why? When? How? Phi Delta Kappan, 54, 213-214.
Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research Design: Qualitative & quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks,
CA: Sage.
Guba, E. G. (1961, April). Elements of a proposal. Paper presented at the UCEA meeting, Chapel
Hill, NC.
Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (1990). How to design and evaluate research in education. McGrawHill. New York.
Kerlinger, F. N. (1979). Behavioral research: A conceptual approachHolt, Rinehart, & Winston. .
New York.
Krathwohl, D. R. (1988). How to prepare a research proposal: Guidelines for funding and
dissertations in the social and behavioral sciences. Syracuse University Press. Syracuse, NY.
Locke, L. F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (1987). Proposals that work: A guide for planning
dissertations and grant proposals (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (1989). Designing qualitative research: Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Shavelson, R. J. (1988). Statistical reasoning for the behavioral sciences (second edition). Allyn and
Bacon, Boston.
Wiersma, W. (1995). Research methods in education: An introduction (Sixth edition). Allyn and
Bacon, Boston.
Wilkinson, A. M. (1991). The scientists handbook for writing papers and dissertations. Prentice Hall.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

10. Model Answers


Answer to Check Your Progress
1. A research proposal is a detailed plan of action for scientific inquiry. It clearly and systematically
presents the research problem, indicates the significance of the problem, and delineates the specific
methods and procedures that will be used to answer the research question or test the research
hypotheses. It also provides a timetable or outline for conducting the study and details the estimated
cost of the investigation. It is written as a preliminary step in the research process. It synthesizes
current knowledge, indicates gaps in knowledge, and specifies a plan to address the problem. A
research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that
you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it.

2. The good research proposals generally contain:


Design: The basic technique or approach to be used such as a case study, pilot program, controlled
experiment, etc.
Population recruitment: The projected participants, subjects, or beneficiaries and how they are
selected. Also describe the role they have had in planning for the proposal.
Treatment: This requires providing sufficient detail about the procedures to be used so the reader
can understand thoroughly.
Reporting and participant tracking: How information will be collected and who will do it. One
needs to be specific and should include copies of any special instruments in the appendix.

UNIT 3: COMMON MISTAKES AND PROBLEMS IN

RESEARCH PROPOSAL WRITING


Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. Shortcomings in all aspects of proposal writing
3.1. Title
3.2 Introducing the Proposal
3.3 Problem Statement
3.4 Clarity in Stating the Objectives
3.5 Appropriateness/Adequacy of Literature Review
3.6 Relevance of Hypotheses
3.7 Appropriateness of Methods and Research Instruments
4. Adequacy of Sampling Procedures
4.1 Appropriateness of Data Analysis Techniques
4.2 Quality of Text and Presentation
5. Summing Up
6. Keywords
7. Know your Progress
8. Further Reading / References
9. Model Answers

1. Introduction
Research provides the means for the acquisition of knowledge and information that is vital for
making informed decisions and developing policies necessary to improve the welfare of human
society. Ones research is only as a good as one's proposal. An ill-conceived proposal dooms the

project. A high quality proposal, on the other hand, promises success for the project. A research
proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have
the competence and the work-plan to complete it. Generally, a research proposal should contain all
the key elements involved in the research process and include sufficient information for the readers to
evaluate the proposed study. In this unit, we shall discuss about the common mistakes that one
encounters in writing good research proposals.

2. Objectives
After studying this unit, you should be able to:

Understand factors influencing the quality of submissions of research proposals;


Establish the problems that authors encounter in writing fundable proposals and the relative
frequencies of such problems; and
Appreciate the nature of the problems that the authors of those proposals face.

3. Shortcomings in all aspects of proposal writing


3.1 Title
The title must give the reader an immediate impression of what is to be expected in the document.
The title of a research study must be as short and as clear as possible, but sufficiently descriptive of
the nature of the work. The title is a package encapsulating many aspects of the research.
The research study must then be unpacked carefully, systematically and scientifically. The
unpacking of the research title is the whole essence of proposal writing. How does one unpack the
research title? This is achieved throughout the document. It starts with the introduction then on
through the problem statement, objectives, hypotheses, methodology, results, discussion and
conclusion. A common thread must link all the aspects of the proposal, so that the research argument
is built systematically and gradually in the different sections.
One of the most common problems relating to rejection of research proposals is that the titles are
unsatisfactorily written. Some are unclear while others have long and clumsy. A small number of
titles do not reflect what was intended to be done during the research. Some of the inadequate titles
are too wordy and lack focus.
3.2

Introducing the Proposal

The introduction of a proposal introduces to the reader the document and gives the readers their first
impression of a proposal. It is important that this first impression is positive; otherwise a reader may
have a negative bias towards the entire document.
The common reasons for rejection of research proposals relating to the introducing the proposal are
given below:

The introduction to the proposals is unsatisfactorily written.


They lack clarity and focus. Some are muddled and use poor language. It is interesting to note
that a few of them even include irrelevant information, while others use old and out-of-date
data and references.
There are cases where facts are misrepresented.
Casual writing is also a problem.

Many researchers deceive themselves by thinking that they can write a proper introduction without
having reviewed the most critical literature on their research topic. The introduction needs to include
a brief and concise statement on the intended research. Following this statement, the introduction
must state what is generally known about the research topic. This basically is the conclusion of the
author from a thorough survey of the current state of the knowledge on the subject. This survey must
also identify a knowledge gap and how the proposed research intends to reduce the gap and
contribute to the advancement of knowledge on the chosen topic. Identification of a knowledge gap
justifies the research proposed. Without this justification a study may be viewed as research
undertaken just for the sake of researchers.
3.3 Problem Statement
The problem statement is the centerpiece of a proposal as well as a report. Thus the statement of the
problem must be clear, brief and succinct. Very often researchers face serious problems with writing
the problem statement. Very few research proposals have a well-written problem statement. The
others have problems ranging from no problem statement, lack of clarity and articulation, and lack of
focus. Some proposals are muddled by attempting to cover many issues. There are also cases where
the problem statement is not even relevant.
3.4

Clarity in Stating the Objectives

A number of research proposals are rejected due to the problems related to clarity in stating the
objectives of the proposals. The ejected proposals either do not clearly state the objectives or
included many general objectives that obscured the intended research.

3.5 Appropriateness/Adequacy of Literature Review


As noted in the discussion of proposal introductions, a thorough review of literature is essential in
order to identify the research gaps of the subject area, hence justify the proposed research. The
reviewers' comments on the appropriateness and adequacy of literature review reveal that in a number
of research proposal writers did not take literature review seriously. Only a small proportion of
authors adequately review the appropriate literature. The large majority of authors do not provide
adequate of literature review and their analysis lack focus, and sometimes provide no review of
literature at all, and if provided, they appear to the poor presentation of reviews.

3.6

Relevance of Hypotheses

Problems related to writing hypotheses that are relevant to the proposed research topic and the subject
matter in question indicate that the proposal authors face serious problems articulating
comprehensible hypotheses. The problems noted include inadequate presentation, hypotheses not
stated, irrelevant hypotheses and lack of clearly formulated hypotheses.
As only few proposals adequately present relevant hypotheses, it is likely that most of the hypotheses
that are found to be testable are those which are relevant. The majority of proposals which are present
hypotheses are not testable.

3.7 Appropriateness of Methods and Research Instruments


A proposal must clearly and thoroughly state how the data will address the research problem to meet
the stated objectives, and hence prove the research hypotheses. The methods and the research
instruments chosen must be appropriate. Problems faced by authors on stating appropriate research
methods include:
clarity in the presentation
appropriate methods are mentioned but not clearly presented.
presentation of inappropriate methodologies, and
not stating any of the methods that the proposal writers are going to use.

4. Adequacy of Sampling Procedures


Standard research practice entails data collection on a sample basis. However, it is crucial that the
sample is carefully selected to represent the population under study. Analysis of the various research
proposals has revealed that only a small proportion of the proposals satisfactorily explain sampling
procedures. Almost 50 per cent of the proposals reviewed did not a have satisfactory explanation of
the sampling procedures. Furthermore, some proposals do not even present the sampling procedures
to be used.
4.1 Appropriateness of Data Analysis Techniques
The reviewers' impressions on the appropriateness of data analysis techniques indicate that for the
majority of the proposals, the techniques for data analysis are not acceptable: of these one fourth are
not found to be appropriate, almost 50 % did not clearly state and the other one fourth did not include
any data analysis techniques.
4.2 Quality of Text and Presentation
The quality of text and presentation of a document encompasses the organization accuracy of
material, the style of writing, and that correct language and grammar is used. Reviewers' comments

on the quality of text and presentation show that over three-fifths of proposals had acceptable quality
of texts and presentation. Poor text and presentation represented 34% and only 3%
of proposals were submitted without being edited.

5. Summing Up
Common Mistakes in Proposal Writing
1. Failure to provide the proper context to frame the research question.
2. Failure to delimit the boundary conditions for your research.
3. Failure to cite landmark studies.
4. Failure to accurately present the theoretical and empirical contributions by other researchers.
5. Failure to stay focused on the research question.
6. Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research.
7. Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues.
8. Too much rambling going "all over the map" without a clear sense of direction. (The best
proposals move forward with ease and grace like a seamless river.)
9. Too many citation lapses and incorrect references.
10. Too long or too short.

6. Keywords
Hypothesis: A hypothesis is a tentative statement that proposes a possible explanation to some
phenomenon or event. A useful hypothesis is a testable statement which may include a prediction. A
hypotheses should not be confused with a theory. Theories are general explanations based on a large
amount of data. For example, the theory of evolution applies to all living things and is based on wide
range of observations. However, there are many things about evolution that are not fully understood
such as gaps in the fossil record. Many hypotheses have been proposed and tested.
Literature Review: A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of
current knowledge and or methodological approaches on a particular topic. Literature reviews are
secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work.
Most often associated with academic-oriented literature, such as theses, a literature review usually
precedes a research proposal and results section. Its ultimate goal is to bring the reader up to date with
current literature on a topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as future research that may be
needed in the area.
A well-structured literature review is characterized by a logical flow of ideas; current and relevant
references with consistent, appropriate referencing style; proper use of terminology; and an unbiased
and comprehensive view of the previous research on the topic.
Research: Research provides the means for the acquisition of knowledge and information that is vital
for making informed decisions and developing policies necessary to improve the welfare of human
society.

According Webster (1985), to research is to search or investigate exhaustively. It is a careful or


diligent search, studious inquiry or examination especially investigation or experimentation aimed at
the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts
or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws, it can also be the collection of
information about a particular subject.

Research Instruments: The quality of research depends to a large extent on the quality of the data
collection tools. Interviewing and administering questionnaires are probably the most commonly used
research techniques. Therefore designing good questioning tools forms an important and timeconsuming phase in the development of most research proposals.
Once the decision has been made to use these tools, the following questions should be considered
before designing them:

What exactly do we want to know, according to the objectives and variables we identified
earlier?
Is questioning the right technique to obtain all answers, or do we need additional techniques,
such as observations or analyses of records?
Of whom will we ask questions and what techniques will we use? Do we understand the topic
sufficiently to design a questionnaire, or do we need some loosely structured interviews with
key informants or a FGD first to orientate ourselves?
Are our informants mainly literate or illiterate? (If illiterate, the use of self-administered
questionnaires is out of the question.)
How large is the sample that will be interviewed? Studies with many respondents often use
shorter, highly structured questionnaires while smaller studies allow more flexibility and may
use interview guides or questionnaires with a number of open-ended questions.

Research Proposal: A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile
research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it.
Sampling: A sample is a finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain
information about the whole(Webster, 1985). When dealing with people, it can be defined as a set of
respondents (people) selected from a larger population for the purpose of a survey. Sampling is the
act, process, or technique of selecting a suitable sample, or a representative part of a population for
the purpose of determining parameters or characteristics of the whole population.

7. Know your Progress


1)

What are the common problems faced in writing the title of a research proposal?

2)

What are the problems related to appropriateness of methods and research instruments?

8. Further Reading / References

Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G, and Williams Joseph M. The Craft of Research. Chicago,
University of Chicago Press
Cooksey, Brian and Alfred Lokuji (1995). Some Practical Research Guidelines, REPOA Special
Paper 12, REPOA, Dar es Salaam, December
Kikula, Idris and Martha A S Qorro (2007). 'Common Mistakes and Problems in Research Proposal
Writing: A Review of Proposals for Research Grants Submitted to REPOA', Special Paper ,
Dar es Salaam.
Lapin, L. L. (1987). Statistics for mordern business decisions. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.
Patton, M.Q.(1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. SAGE Publications. Newbury
Park London New Delhi.
Punch, Keith F. (2000). Developing Effective Research Proposals. London, Sage Publications
Ltd.
Salant, P. and D. A. Dillman (1994). How to conduct your own survey. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Wangwe, Samuel and Apronius Mbilinyi (2006). 'The Review of Evaluation Processes for Research
Proposals and Research Outputs at REPOA, Final Report to REPOA, Daima Associates Ltd.,
July
Webster, M. (1985). Webster`s nith new collegiate dictionary. Meriam - Webster Inc.

9. Model Answers
1)
One of the most common problems relating to rejection of research proposals is that the titles
are unsatisfactorily written. Some are unclear while others have long and clumsy. A small number of
titles do not reflect what was intended to be done during the research. Some of the inadequate titles
are too wordy and lack focus.
Problems faced by authors on stating appropriate research methods include:

2)

clarity in the presentation


appropriate methods are mentioned but not clearly presented.
presentation of inappropriate methodologies, and
not stating any of the methods that the proposal writers are going to use.

BLOCK 3: Indicators, Case Studies, and Evaluation of


Sustainable Rural Development
Introduction
Improving the quality of life for the people of this country is perhaps the most important duty of
Government. We set measurable indicators across the whole range of issues that matter most to
people, and are likely to matter to future generations too. That means measuring how we perform on
the big, important things such as peoples health, the state of the economy, employment, transport,
crime and the environment. The indicators show how in some areas things are already improving.
Additionally, we are also required to conduct case studies to capture various successful interventions
in sustainable development. Thus we need to know the sustainability indicators, basics of developing
case studies, format for writing case study reports, and how to carry out the evaluation of rural
development schemes.
Therefore, in the Block 3, we have provided the following four units.
Unit 1: Indicators of Sustainable Development
Unit 2: Basics of Developing Case Studies
Unit 3: Format for Writing Case Study Report
Unit 4: How to Evaluate Rural Development Schemes
This four-unit Block shall enable you to appreciate the various sustainability indicators, basics and
format for developing case studies, and evaluation of rural development schemes.
Unit 1 tries to develop understanding about the meaning of the term indicator and what are the
sustainability indicators.
Unit 2 explains how to design and develop case studies.

Unit 3 discusses about the format for writing a good case study report.
Unit 4 offers information about evaluation in the context of rural development. Rural development
evaluation must provide information on the implementation and impacts of the programmes. The
aims are, on the one hand, to increase the accountability and transparency with regard to the legal and
budget authorities and the public and, on the other hand, to improve the implementation of the
programmes by contributing to informed planning and decisions concerning needs, delivery
mechanisms and resource allocation.

UNIT 1: INDICATORS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT


Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. What is an Indicator?
3.1 What is an indicator of sustainability?
3.2 What are the characteristics of effective sustainability indicators?
4. Is there a checklist that a community can use to evaluate sustainability indicators?
4.1 How can you organize indicators; how many and what kind do you need?
4.2 What data sources are available for indicators?
4.3 What makes an indicator a good sustainability indicator?
5.

Summing up

6.

Keywords

7. Know Your Progress


8.

Further Readings / References

9. Model Answers

1. Introduction
Improving the quality of life for the people of this country is perhaps the most important duty
of Government. We set measurable indicators across the whole range of issues that matter most to
people, and are likely to matter to future generations too. That means measuring how we perform on
the big, important things such as peoples health, the state of the economy, employment, transport,

crime and the environment. The indicators show how in some areas things are already improving. For
example, the economy has grown and peoples incomes have increased in real terms. Educational and
housing standards have improved. Emissions of some of the gases that contribute to climate change
have declined. In this Unit we shall try to understand the meaning of the term indicator and what are
the sustainability indicators.
2. Objectives
After studying this unit, you should be able to:

Appreciate what is an indicator;


What is an indicator of sustainability;
What are the characteristics of effective sustainability indicators;
Checklist that a community can use to evaluate sustainability
Indicators;
How can you organize indicators; how many and what kind do you need;
What data sources are available for indicators; and
What makes an indicator a good sustainability indicator?

3. What is an Indicator?
The word for indicator in Arabic is pointer. Indicators point to a desirable outcome, to 'which
way is up' in the policy arena.
The different levels of data for policy purposes are shown in the Information Pyramid. At the bottom
of the pyramid are data, which unprocessed are of little value for policy purposes. Once data are
processed into statistics or tables, they can be used in reports or as the basis for ad-hoc evaluations,
but still they are often difficult to understand or use for policy. Indicators are statistics directed
specifically towards policy concerns and which point towards successful outcomes and conclusions
for policy. They are usually highly aggregated and have easily recognizable purposes. Classic
indicators include the unemployment rate or GDP growth, numbers which are such powerful and
recognizable indicators of performance that they may cause governments to fall. At the highest level
are indices, such as the consumer price index or human development index, which combine different
indicators into a single number useful for comparison over time and space.
An indicator is something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going and
how far you are from where you want to be. A good indicator alerts you to a problem before it gets
too bad and helps you recognize what needs to be done to fix the problem. Indicators of a sustainable
community point to areas where the links between the economy, environment and society are weak.
They allow you to see where the problem areas are and help show the way to fix those problems.

3.1

What is an indicator of sustainability?

Indicators of sustainability are different from traditional indicators of economic, social, and
environmental progress. Traditional indicators -- such as stockholder profits, asthma rates, and water
quality -- measure changes in one part of a community as if they were entirely independent of the
other parts. Sustainability indicators reflect the reality that the three different segments are very
tightly interconnected, as shown in the figure below:

Communities are a web of interactions among


the environment, the economy and society.
As this figure illustrates, the natural resource base provides the materials for production on which
jobs and stockholder profits depend. Jobs affect the poverty rate and the poverty rate is related to
crime. Air quality, water quality and materials used for production have an effect on health. They
may also have an effect on stockholder profits: if a process requires clean water as an input, cleaning
up poor quality water prior to processing is an extra expense, which reduces profits. Likewise, health
problems, whether due to general air quality problems or exposure to toxic materials, have an effect
on worker productivity and contribute to the rising costs of health insurance.
Sustainability requires this type of integrated view of the world -- it requires multidimensional
indicators that show the links among a community's economy, environment, and society. For
example, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a well-publicized traditional indicator, measures the
amount of money being spent in a country. It is generally reported as a measure of the country's
economic well-being: the more money being spent, the higher the GDP and the better the overall
economic well-being is assumed to be. However, because GDP reflects only the amount of economic
activity, regardless of the effect of that activity on the community's social and environmental health,
GDP can go up when overall community health goes down. For example, when there is a ten-car
pileup on the highway, the GDP goes up because of the money spent on medical fees and repair costs.
On the other hand, if ten people decide not to buy cars and instead walk to work, their health and
wealth may increase but the GDP goes down. In contrast, a comparable sustainability indicator is the
Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare.
Indicators of sustainable community are useful to different communities for different reasons. For a
healthy, vibrant community, indicators help monitor that health so that negative trends are caught and
dealt with before they become a problem. For communities with economic, social, or environmental

problems, indicators can point the way to a better future. For all communities, indicators can generate
discussion among people with different backgrounds and viewpoints, and, in the process, help create
a shared vision of what the community should be.

3.2

What are the characteristics of effective sustainability indicators?

An indicator is something that points to an issue or condition. Its purpose is to show you how well a
system is working. If there is a problem, an indicator can help you determine what direction to take to
address the issue. Indicators are as varied as the types of systems they monitor. However, there are
certain characteristics that effective indicators have in common:

Effective indicators are relevant; they show you something about the system that you need to
know.

Effective indicators are easy to understand, even by people who are not experts.

Effective indicators are reliable; you can trust the information that the indicator is providing.

Lastly, effective indicators are based on accessible data; the information is available or can be
gathered while there is still time to act.

An example of an indicator is the gas gauge in your car. The gas gauge shows you how much
gasoline is left in your car. If the gauge shows the tank is almost empty, you know it's time to fill up.
Another example of an indicator is a midterm report card. It shows you whether a student is doing
well enough to go to the next grade or if extra help is needed. Both of these indicators provide
information to help prevent or solve problems, hopefully before they become too severe.

Indicators can be useful as proxies or substitutes for measuring conditions that are so complex that
there is no direct measurement. For instance, it is hard to measure the 'quality of life in my town'
because there are many different things that make up quality of life and people may have different
opinions on which conditions count most. A very simple substitute indicator is 'Number of people
moving
into
the
town
compared
to
the
number
moving
out.'

Examples of familiar measurements used as indicators in everyday life include:

Wave height and wind speed are indicators of storm severity

Barometric pressure and wind direction are indicators of upcoming weather changes

Won-lost record is an indicator of player skills

Credit-card debt is an indicator of money-management skills

Pulse and blood pressure are indicators of fitness

Note that these are all numeric measurements. Indicators are quantifiable. An indicator is not the
same thing as an indication, which is generally not quantifiable, but just a vague clue. In addition to
being quantifiable, effective indicators have the four basic characteristics noted above. These
characteristics
are:
Relevant
An indicator must be relevant, that is, it must fit the purpose for measuring. As indicators, the gas
gauge and the report card both measure facts that are relevant. If, instead of measuring the amount of
gas in the tank, the gas gauge showed the octane rating of the gasoline, it would not help you decide
when to refill the tank. Likewise, a report card that measured the number of pencils used by the
student
would
be
a
poor
indicator
of
academic
performance.
Understandable
An indicator must be understandable. You need to know what it is telling you. There are many
different types of gas gauges. Some gauges have a lever that moves between 'full' and 'empty' marks.
Other gauges use lights to achieve the same effect. Some gauges show the number of gallons of
gasoline left in the tank. Although different, each gauge is understandable to the driver. Similarly,
with the report card, different schools have different ways of reporting academic progress. Some
schools have letter grades A through F. Other schools use numbers from 100 to 0. Still other schools
use written comments. Like the gas gauge, these different measures all express the student's progress
or lack of progress in a way that is understandable to the person reading the report card.
On the other hand, a gas gauge that showed the number of BTU's left in the tank would probably not
be very useful to you in deciding when to fill up the tank. Likewise, a report card that gave grades in
ancient Greek script would be a mystery to most people. In order for you to know when action is
needed, you must be able to understand what an indicator is telling you.

Reliable
An indicator must be reliable. You must trust what the indicator shows. A good gas gauge and an
accurate report card give information that can be relied on. A gas gauge that shows the tank is empty
when in fact it is half full would make you stop for gasoline before it is needed. A gas gauge that
shows the tank is half full when in fact it is empty would cause you to run out of gas in an
inconvenient place. Similarly, if a student's grade were reported wrong, an honors student could be
sent for remedial work and a student who needs help would not get it. An indicator is only useful if
you
know
you
can
believe
what
it
is
showing
you.

Reliability is not the same as precision. When your gas gauge registers empty, you know there is still
a gallon or so of gasoline left as a reserve. The gas gauge reliably under-reports the amount of
gasoline. An indicator does not necessarily need to be precise; it just needs to give a reliable picture
of
the
system
it
is
measuring.
Accessible Data
Indicators must provide timely information. They must give you information while there is time to
act. For example, imagine a gas gauge that only gave you the amount of gasoline in the tank when the
engine was started. After you have been driving for several hours, that reading is no longer useful.
You need to know how much gasoline is in the tank at each moment. Similarly, a report card
distributed a week before graduation arrives too late to give a student remedial help. In order for an
indicator to be useful in preventing or solving a problem, it must give you the information while there
is
still
time
to
correct
the
problem.
One of the biggest problems with developing indicators of sustainability is that frequently the best
indicators are those for which there is no data, while the indicators for which there is data are the least
able to measure sustainability. This has led many communities to choose traditional data sources and
measures for indicators. There are several advantages to traditional indicators. First, the data is
readily available and can be used to compare communities. Second, traditional indicators can help to
define problem areas. Third, traditional indicators can be combined to create sustainability indicators.

However, there is a real danger that traditional data sources and traditional indicators will focus
attention on the traditional solutions that created an unsustainable community in the first place. It may
be tempting to keep measuring 'number of jobs,' but measuring 'number of jobs that pay a livable
wage and include benefits' will lead to better solutions. Discussions that include the phrase 'but you
can't get that data' are not going to lead to indicators of sustainability. In fact, if you define a list of
indicators and find that the data is readily available for every one of them, you probably have not
thought hard enough about sustainability. Try to define the best indicators and only settle for less as
an interim step while developing data sources for better indicators.

4. Is there a checklist that a community can use to evaluate sustainability


indicators?
This section describes a checklist that may be helpful for applying the sustainability criteria to
indicators. None of the criteria are absolute, and at times a less desirable indicator may be selected
when there are no reliable data sources for a better indicator. However, it is important to remember
that sustainability is a long-term concept. Sustainability indicators are not just a statement of what
exists, they also show the community's vision of the future. Before time is spent gathering and
reporting data for an indicator, it should be compared to the community's vision of sustainability to
make sure that it is pointing in the right direction.

Using our checklist can help you determine whether or not an indicator is a good measure of
sustainability. The checklist does not address whether an indicator is a good indicator in general. It
assumes that the indicator meets the general criteria for effectiveness. This checklist concentrates on
the characteristics that make an indicator a good indicator of sustainability.
The checklist has 14 questions. Positive answers to the first 13 questions earn one point each for the
indicator being evaluated. This means that the total possible score for an indicator is 13 points. Few
indicators earn more than 8 points, however, because it is difficult to create an indicator that
simultaneously measures all six types of community capital and links the economy, society and
environment. The final question is the show-stopper question, because local sustainability is not
something that can be achieved at the expense of global sustainability.
The sustainable community indicator checklist consists of the following 14 questions:
1.

Does the indicator address the carrying capacity of the natural resources -- renewable and
nonrenewable, local and nonlocal -- that the community relies on?

2.

Does the indicator address the carrying capacity of the ecosystem services upon which the
community relies, whether local, global, or from distant sources?

3.

Does the indicator address the carrying capacity of esthetic qualities -- the beauty and lifeaffirming qualities of nature -- that are important to the community?

4.

Does the indicator address the carrying capacity of the community's human capital -- the skills,
abilities, health and education of people in the community?.

5.

Does the indicator address the carrying capacity of a community's social capital -- the
connections between people in a community: the relationships of friends, families,
neighborhoods, social groups, businesses, governments and their ability to cooperate, work
together and interact in positive, meaningful ways?

6.

Does the indicator address the carrying capacity of a community's built capital -- the humanmade materials (buildings, parks, playgrounds, infrastructure, and information) that are needed
for quality of life and the community's ability to maintain and enhance those materials with
existing resources?

7.

Does the indicator provide a long-term view of the community?

8.

Does the indicator address the issue of economic, social or biological diversity in the
community?

9.

Does the question address the issue of equity or fairness -- either between current community
residents (intra-generational equity) or between current and future residents (inter-generational
equity)?

10. Is the indicator understandable to and useable by its intended audience?

11. Does the indicator measure a link between economy and environment?
12. Does the indicator measure a link between environment and society?
13. Does the indicator measure a link between society and economy?
14. Does the indicator measure sustainability that is at the expense of another community or at the
expense of global sustainability?

4.1

How can you organize indicators; how many and what kind do you need?

Just as sustainability is about finding the balance point between a community's economy,
environment, and society, developing a set of indicators for a sustainable community requires
balancing many different needs within that community. A brainstorming session might produce
hundreds of indicators. Deciding how many to keep can be difficult. More is not better. Less is not
better. The right number depends on many factors including what type of audience the indicator
report will have, how much time is available to research the data, the number of issues involved, and
any
specific
needs
of
the
community.
For example, the US Interagency working Group on Sustainable Development Indicators
initially identified 400 possible indicators, which they then reduced to 30. After further discussion
they added 10 more, for a total of 40. Feedback from knowledgeable reviewers generally said that 40
was too large a number, although each reviewer then suggested one more to add!

If the indicators will be used by different departments within large organizations, 50 to 100 might
make sense. If the indicators are to be used to keep the public informed, a smaller number of 10 to 20
would make more sense. Knowing which ones to keep is more than a matter of evaluating them with
a checklist and keeping the highest scores. It is also important that the final set of indicators cover all
the issues that are important to the community. Organizing or sorting the indicators in one of several
ways can help a community evaluate the effectiveness of the entire set of indicators.

There are four common methods for organizing sustainability indicators. These methods, often called
frameworks, are:

Category or issue lists based on the main focus of each indicator show whether all aspects of the
community (environment, society, and economy) are represented.
A goal-indicator matrix can show how each indicator relates to many issues or a set of
community goals. The matrix shows whether all issues or goals are evenly addressed. .
Driving force-state-response tables balance measures of causes or driving forces; measures of the
results, or state; and measures of programs and other human activities designed to alter driving
forces with the goal of improving the state. This provides a secondary level of analysis mainly
for use by policy-makers or decision-makers.

Endowments, liabilities, current results, and processes are headings in another table used by the
US Interagency working Group on Sustainable Development Indicators to check for balance
among measures of what we are leaving for the future, what we have now, and what is happening
to create both situations.

None of these frameworks are the best framework. Different frameworks work well for different
purposes. For organizing indicators in a report, a category list is easily understood by many people.
The Goal-Indicator matrix is useful for showing whether the indicator set measures all the goals of a
community. The Driving Force-State-Response framework shows the connections between human
activities and environmental states. The Endowments framework can highlight the longer term
aspects of sustainability. What is most important about the framework is that it works well for the
intended purpose.
4.2

What data sources are available for indicators?

Data for indicators can be found in a wide variety of places, including local government
agencies, state government agencies, academic institutions, large government databases, and reports
at your local library. In most cases, the more local the source of data, the more relevant it will be to
your community. Finding the data sources is a matter of talking to different people. If you have
succeeded in having a diverse cross section of the community represented in your project, locating
data sources will be easier because of the expertise of the people working on the project. Everyone
will know at least one potential source of information, some people will know many.

Local Sources of Data


Local agencies are a valuable source of local information. The town, city or county clerk generally
has information about population and voting. The clerk's office may also have information about local
motor vehicle registration and housing. The department of public works has information on water
use, the generation of solid waste and waste water, and recycling rates. Public health departments can
provide information on illness and disease. Local school boards or superintendent offices can provide
information on school graduation rates, free lunch programs and other education related issues. The
town finance department will have information on tax revenue, tax rates, and government
expenditures. The local welfare office may be able to provide information related to food and housing
subsidies. These information sources will be the most relevant to local indicators of sustainable
community.
Local organizations or local branches of national organizations are also good sources of information.
In some cases these organizations may have conducted surveys or researched specific issues within
the community. In other cases, local organizations may have the support of a national parent
organization that can provide information. For example, the local League of Women of Voters may
have done a survey on citizen participation rates. The local Audubon Society chapter may have
organized a survey of local bird species. Local chambers of commerce may have information on
shopping habits or local businesses. The local United Way or another charitable organization may
have done an assessment of the community's need for health care and other services. Each of these
information sources provides community specific data that could be useful for local indicators.

Local colleges and universities are a valuable source of information on a wide variety of issues and in
many different forms. Frequently there are professors and researchers at these institutions who have
experience in areas ranging from economics to environment to health and social services. Often the
schools have related institutions which publish reports and do surveys on community related issues.
These can provide information about the community and a point of comparison to other similar
communities.
Your local library is also an important source of information in three ways: First, many libraries have
copies of U.S. Census reports and similar national or regional reports. Getting federal data may be as
easy as asking your reference librarian. Second, in addition to having copies of reports from national
groups, local libraries often have copies of reports researched and written locally that are specific to
your community. Third, local libraries are helpful in locating additional sources of information. Most
reference librarians can provide suggestions for where to find additional sources of information and
frequently may even be able to get copies for you.
State and National Sources of Data
Although they probably will not be useful as a primary source of data for local community indicators,
there are also regional and national sources of information. These will be particularly useful in the
beginning stages of a project. These sources of data show general information and trends over time
that can be used to interest people in the process. The types of information include changes in
population, changes in employment and changes in housing.
Regional and state agencies can provide information on a variety of issues. Most states have a
planning board or a planning commission whose job it is to keep track of information about activities
in the state and project how those activities may change over time. For example, the planning board
may have yearly population projections for towns and cities in the state. The board may also have
information about traffic patterns and expected changes in those patterns. Environmental agencies at
the state and national level can provide information about air and water quality.
The best indicators are those that fit your community and link the community's economic,
environmental and social well-being.

4.3

What makes an indicator a good sustainability indicator?

What makes an indicator a good sustainability indicator? What sources of data exist for a particular
indicator? How are indicators actually being used? What do indicators say about a community's wellbeing? These are all questions of concern to anyone involved in community indicator work.
There are no perfect sustainability indicators, but there are indicators that address the critical issues of
community sustainability. These indicators help us understand and measure progress better than
traditional indicators. In this section we highlight indicators that are currently in use by a community
group or organization actively working on sustainable community issues. The purpose of highlighting

any particular indicator is not to suggest that every community should be using it. Rather, the purpose
is to provide food for thought and promote discussion of the issues involved in developing indicators
that measure and encourage progress towards becoming sustainable communities.
Indicators selected for good sustainability indicators should be based on how well they:

Address the issue of the community's carrying capacity relative to the four types of
community capital: natural, human, social, and built;

Highlight the links between the community's economic, social, and environmental wellbeing;

Focus on a long range view;

Are understandable to the community; and

Measure local sustainability that is not at the expense of global sustainability

5. Summing up
Indicators provide early warning about non-sustainable trends of economic activity and
environmental deterioration. They can also support policy formulation and evaluation. Policy use
requires the setting of targets or benchmarks against which progress or failure can be assessed. he
strength and weakness of indicators lie in their selection, which facilitates decision-making.
Indicator lists of varying length seek to capture the different economic, environmental, social and
institutional - dimensions of sustainable development. They are indicators for (the assessment of)
sustainable development. They differ in the particular selection of representative indicators of these
dimensions and related sustainability concerns. Indicators of sustainable development are more in the
nature of indices that reflect the state of overall concepts or social goals such as human development,
sustainable development, the quality of life or socioeconomic welfare. The variety of indicator
proposals makes it necessary to evaluate their scope, coverage, definition and statistical validity. This
can be done transparently by placing them in a consistent system or framework.

6. Keywords
Sustain: to continue without lessening, to nourish, to allow to flourish. in the context of
sustainability, 'sustain' does not mean that nothing ever changes. Nor does it mean utopia, that
nothing bad ever happens. Sustainability is not about maintaining the status quo or reaching
perfection. A sustainable community seeks to maintain and improve the economic, environmental and
social characteristics of an area so its members can continue to lead healthy, productive, enjoyable
lives there.

Develop: to improve or bring to a more advanced state. in the context of sustainability,


'develop' does not mean continually getting bigger. People start out as infants and grow until
they become adults. They don't continually get larger, but they do continue to develop: they
go back to school, make new friends, learn new skills, start a new hobby, or travel to new
places. In the same way, a sustainable community does not grow larger indefinitely.
Sustainability does not mean sustained growth. At some point, a sustainable community
stops getting larger but continues to change and improve, to develop in ways that enhance
the quality of life for all its inhabitants. Sustainable development improves the economy
without undermining the society or the environment. Sustainable development focuses on
improving our lives without continually increasing the amount of energy and material goods
that we consume.
Community: a group of people who live and interact within a specific geographic area. In the context
of sustainability, a 'community' can be a small rural community, a large metropolitan region, a nation,
or the entire planet. What makes an area a community is shared interactions among the people in the
community. These interactions include:

Economic transactions: buying and selling goods and services to each other.

Social relationships: being friends and neighbors, sharing, cooperating, solving common
problems together.

Environmental interdependence: relying on common resources or the services of common


ecosystems like forests, farmlands, water supplies, and air supply.

Economy: the way that goods and services are produced, distributed and consumed. The word
economy comes from two Greek words meaning 'house' and 'manage.' Economics is about how we
manage our households, both our individual households and our collective community 'households.'
People need material goods to survive: food, water, energy, a place to live, and clothes to wear. These
goods are all based on resources from the natural environment in which we live. So, in the context of
sustainability, economics is about the material goods and services that we use in our lives-from basic
necessities to the special 'extras' that make life more enjoyable.
Community Capital: the natural, human, social, and built capital from which a community receives
benefits and on which the community relies for continued existence. The term 'capital' is most
commonly used to refer to money and material goods. However, in the context of sustainability,
communities have several different types of capital that need to be considered -- natural, human,
social, and built capital. Together, these types of capital are referred to as community capital. All four
types of capital are necessary for communities to function. All four types of capital need to be
managed by a community. All four types of capital need to be cared for, nurtured and improved over
time.
Carrying Capacity: the population that can be supported indefinitely by its supporting systems. In
ecological terms, the carrying capacity of an ecosystem is the size of the population that can be
supported indefinitely upon the available resources and services of that ecosystem.

Equity: In the context of sustainability, the term equity has to do with fairness -- whether all people
have similar rights, opportunities and access to all forms of community capital. Inter-generational
equity has to do with fairness between current and future members of a community. It doesn't mean
that we neglect our current needs, but that we try to achieve a reasonable balance between satisfying
our needs now and setting aside enough to provide for needs of the future. We are currently living
unsustainable lives. If we are not careful how we use and dispose of resources, our children,
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will have a poorer, more polluted world to live in. Aiming for
inter-generational equity means we want to give equal consideration to our own immediate needs, our
own future needs, and our children's and grandchildren's future needs.
The term equity is also used in connection with the idea that all people throughout the community, be
it a town or the entire world, have the same basic needs that must be taken into consideration. This
concept is often referred to as intra-generational equity, meaning justice among the present
population. The preservation (or acquisition) of basic human rights and the fulfillment of basic human
needs are the fundamental driving forces behind economic transactions, social interactions, and
resource consumption. When people are operating under duress in any of these areas, concern for
immediate needs overwhelms any consideration for long term needs, thereby undermining the whole
principle of planning for the future. So, current or intra-generational inequity can lead to future or
inter-generational inequity.

7. Know your Progress


1)

Explain and define an indicator.

2)

What are the characteristics of effective sustainability indicators?

3)

What data sources are available for indicators?

4)

What makes an indicator a good sustainability indicator?

8. Further Reading / References


Bartelmus, P., 1997. Measuring sustainability: data linkage and integration, in:
Moldan, B., S. Billharz and R. Matravers (1997). Sustainability Indicators:
A Report on Indicators of Sustainable Development, Chichester and
others: Wiley.
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), 2004. Compendium of Sustainable
Development Indicators Initiatives (website for national and international indicator programs
and projects).
Moldan, B., S. Billharz and R. Matravers, 1997. Sustainability Indicators: A
Report on Indicators of Sustainable Development, Chichester and others:
Wiley (overview of national and international approaches to indicators and index
calculations).
Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center. Environmental Sustainability Index

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1993. OECD Core Set of
Indicators for Environmental Performance Reviews
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003. OECD Environmental Indicators:
Development, Measurement and Use
United Nations, 2001. Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies, New
York: United Nations (sales no. E.01.II.A.6).

9. Model Answers
1)

Explain and define an indicator.

1)
An indicator is something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going
and how far you are from where you want to be. A good indicator alerts you to a problem before it
gets too bad and helps you recognize what needs to be done to fix the problem. Indicators of a
sustainable community point to areas where the links between the economy, environment and society
are weak. They allow you to see where the problem areas are and help show the way to fix those
problems.

2)

There are certain characteristics that effective indicators have in common:

Effective indicators are relevant; they show you something about the system that you need to
know.

Effective indicators are easy to understand, even by people who are not experts.

Effective indicators are reliable; you can trust the information that the indicator is providing.

Lastly, effective indicators are based on accessible data; the information is available or can be
gathered while there is still time to act.

3. Data for indicators can be found in a wide variety of places, including local government agencies,
state government agencies, academic institutions, large government databases, and reports at your
local library. In most cases, the more local the source of data, the more relevant it will be to your
community. The best indicators are those that fit your community and link the community's
economic, environmental and social well-being.

4. There are no perfect sustainability indicators, but there are indicators that address the critical
issues of community sustainability. These indicators help us understand and measure progress better
than traditional indicators.
Indicators selected for good sustainability indicators should be based on how well they:

Address the issue of the community's carrying capacity relative to the four types of
community capital: natural, human, social, and built;

Highlight the links between the community's economic, social, and environmental wellbeing;

Focus on a long range view;

Are understandable to the community; and

Measure local sustainability that is not at the expense of global sustainability

UNIT-2: BASICS OF DEVELOPING


CASE STUDIES

Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. What is a Case Study?
4. Designing and Developing Case Studies
5. Summing Up
6. Keywords
7. Know your Progress
8. Further Reading / References
9. Model Answers

1. Introduction
A case study is a research methodology common in social science. It is based on an in-depth
investigation of a single individual, group, or event to explore causation in order to find underlying
principles. Rather than using samples and following a rigid protocol (strict set of rules) to examine
limited number of variables, case study methods involve an in-depth, longitudinal (over a long period
of time) examination of a single instance or event: a case. They provide a systematic way of looking
at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. As a result the researcher
may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did, and what might become
important to look at more extensively in future research. Case studies lend themselves to both
generating and testing hypotheses, write a research proposal, and common mistakes in research
proposal writing.
Case study research means single and multiple case studies, can include quantitative evidence,
relies on multiple sources of evidence and benefits from the prior development of theoretical
propositions. Case studies should not be confused with qualitative research and they can be based on
any mix of quantitative and qualitative evidence. Single-subject research provides the statistical
framework for making inferences from quantitative case-study data.[2][4] This is also supported and
well-formulated in (Lamnek, 2005): "The case study is a research approach, situated between
concrete data taking techniques and methodological paradigms."

This Unit explains how to design and develop case studies.

2. Objectives
After studying this Unit, you should be able to:

Appreciate what is a Case study


How to write a concept note:
What is a project;
How to write a research proposal; and
The common mistakes in writing a research proposal.

3. What is a Case Study?


Case study research excels at bringing us to an understanding of a complex issue or object and
can extend experience or add strength to what is already known through previous research. Case
studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their
relationships. Researchers have used the case study research method for many years across a variety
of disciplines. Social scientists, in particular, have made wide use of this qualitative research method
to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of ideas and
extension of methods. Researcher Robert K. Yin defines the case study research method as an
empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the
boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources
of evidence are used (Yin, 1984).
There are several examples of the use of case methodology in the literature. Yin (1993) listed
several examples along with the appropriate research design in each case. There were suggestions for
a general approach to designing case studies, and also recommendations for exploratory, explanatory,
and descriptive case studies. Each of those three approaches can be either single or multiple-case
studies, where multiple-case studies are replicators, not sampled cases. There were also specific
examples in education, and management information systems. Education has embraced the case
method for instructional use. Some of the applications are reviewed in this paper.
In exploratory case studies, fieldwork, and data collection may be undertaken prior to
definition of the research questions and hypotheses. This type of study has been considered as a
prelude to some social research. However, the framework of the study must be created ahead of time.
Pilot projects are very useful in determining the final protocols that will be used. Survey questions
may be dropped or added based on the outcome of the pilot study. Selecting cases is a difficult
process, but the literature provides guidance in this area (Yin, 1989a). Stake (1995) recommended
that the selection offers the opportunity to maximize what can be learned, knowing that time is

limited. Hence the cases that are selected should be easy and willing subjects. A good instrumental
case does not have to defend its typicality.
Explanatory cases are suitable for doing causal studies. In very complex and multivariate
cases, the analysis can make use of pattern-matching techniques. Yin and Moore (1988) conducted a
study to examine the reason why some research findings get into practical use. They used a funded
research project as the unit of analysis, where the topic was constant but the project varied. The
utilisation outcomes were explained by three rival theories: a knowledge-driven theory, a problemsolving theory, and a social-interaction theory.
Knowledge-driven theory means that ideas and discoveries from basic research eventually
become commercial products. Problem-solving theory follows the same path, but originates not with
a researcher, but with an external source identifying a problem. The social-interaction theory claims
that researchers and users belong to overlapping professional networks and are in frequent
communication.
Descriptive cases require that the investigator begin with a descriptive theory, or face the
possibility that problems will occur during the project. Pyecha (1988) used this methodology to study
special education, using a pattern-matching procedure. Several states were studied and the data about
each state's activities were compared to another, with idealized theoretic patterns. Thus what is
implied in this type of study is the formation of hypotheses of cause-effect relationships. Hence the
descriptive theory must cover the depth and scope of the case under study. The selection of cases and
the unit of analysis is developed in the same manner as the other types of case studies.
Case studies have been increasingly used in education. While law and medical schools have
been using the technique for an extended period, the technique is being applied in a variety of
instructional situations. Schools of business have been most aggressive in the implementation of case
based learning, or "active learning" (Boisjoly & DeMichiell, 1994). Harvard University has been a
leader in this area, and cases developed by the faculty have been published for use by other
institutions.
The quintessential characteristic of case studies is that they strive towards a holistic
understanding of cultural systems of action (Feagin, Orum, & Sjoberg, 1990). Cultural systems of
action refer to sets of interrelated activities engaged in by the actors in a social situation. The case
studies must always have boundaries (Stake, 1995). Case study research is not sampling research,
which is a fact asserted by all the major researchers in the field, including Yin, Stake, Feagin and
others. However, selecting cases must be done so as to maximize what can be learned, in the period
of time available for the study.
The unit of analysis is a critical factor in the case study. It is typically a system of action
rather than an individual or group of individuals. Case studies tend to be selective, focusing on one or
two issues that are fundamental to understanding the system being examined.
Case studies are multi-perspective analyses. This means that the researcher considers not just
the voice and perspective of the actors, but also of the relevant groups of actors and the interaction
between them. This one aspect is a salient point in the characteristic that case studies possess. They

give a voice to the powerless and voiceless. When sociological studies present many studies of the
homeless and powerless, they do so from the viewpoint of the "elite" (Feagin, Orum, & Sjoberg,
1991).
Case study is known as a triangulated research strategy. Snow and Anderson (cited in Feagin,
Orum, & Sjoberg, 1991) asserted that triangulation can occur with data, investigators, theories, and
even methodologies. Stake (1995) stated that the protocols that are used to ensure accuracy and
alternative explanations are called triangulation. The need for triangulation arises from the ethical
need to confirm the validity of the processes. In case studies, this could be done by using multiple
sources of data (Yin, 1984). The problem in case studies is to establish meaning rather than location.

4. Designing and Developing Case Studies


In developing a case study, following important steps are followed.
1. All data about the case is gathered
For example, if the study is to highlight a program's failure with a client, data would be
collected about the program, its processes and the client. Data could result from a combination of
methods, including documentation (applications, histories, records, etc.), questionnaires, interviews
and
observation.
2. Data is organized into an approach to highlight the focus of the study
In our example, data in the case would be organized in a chronological order to portray how
the client got into the program, went through the program and did not receive effective services.

3. A case study narrative is developed


The narrative is a highly readable story that integrates and summarizes key information
around the focus of the case study. The narrative should be complete to the extent that it is the eyes
and ears for an outside reader to understand what happened regarding the case. In our example, the
narrative might include key demographic information about the client, phases in the program's
process through which the client passed and any major differences noticed about that client during the
process,
early
indicators
of
failures
and
key
quotes
from
the
client.
4. The narrative might be validated by review from program participants
For example, the client for whom the program failed, would read the narrative to ensure it
fully depicted his or her experience and results.
5. Case studies might be cross-compared to isolate any themes or patterns

For example, various case studies about program failures might be compared to notice
commonalities in these clients' experiences and how they went through the program. These
commonalities might highlight where in the program the process needs to be strengthened.
Yin (1994) identified five components of research design that are important for case studies:

A study's questions
Its propositions, if any
Its unit(s) of analysis
The logic linking the data to the propositions
The criteria for interpreting the findings (Yin, 1994, p. 20).

The study's questions are most likely to be "how" and "why" questions, and their definition is
the first task of the researcher. The study's propositions sometimes derive from the "how" and "why"
questions, and are helpful in focusing the study's goals. Not all studies need to have propositions. An
exploratory study, rather than having propositions, would have a stated purpose or criteria on which
the success will be judged. The unit of analysis defines what the case is. This could be groups,
organizations or countries, but it is the primary unit of analysis. Linking the data to propositions and
the criteria for interpreting the findings are the least developed aspects in case studies (Yin, 1994).
Campbell (1975) described "pattern-matching" as a useful technique for linking data to the
propositions. Campbell (1975) asserted that pattern-matching is a situation where several pieces of
information from the same case may be related to some theoretical proposition. His study showed,
through pattern-matching, that the observed drop in the level of traffic fatalities in Connecticut was
not related to the lowering of the speed limit. His study also illustrated some of the difficulties in
establishing the criteria for interpreting the findings.
Construct validity is especially problematic in case study research. It has been a source of
criticism because of potential investigator subjectivity. Yin (1994) proposed three remedies to
counteract this: using multiple sources of evidence, establishing a chain of evidence, and having a
draft case study report reviewed by key informants. Internal validity is a concern only in causal
(explanatory) cases. This is usually a problem of "inferences" in case studies, and can be dealt with
using pattern-matching, which has been described above. External validity deals with knowing
whether the results are generalisable beyond the immediate case. Some of the criticism against case
studies in this area relate to single-case studies. However, that criticism is directed at the statistical
and not the analytical generalization that is the basis of case studies. Reliability is achieved in many
ways in a case study. One of the most important methods is the development of the case study
protocol.
Case studies can be either single or multiple-case designs. Single cases are used to confirm or
challenge a theory, or to represent a unique or extreme case (Yin, 1994). Single-case studies are also
ideal for revelatory cases where an observer may have access to a phenomenon that was previously
inaccessible. Single-case designs require careful investigation to avoid misrepresentation and to
maximize the investigator's access to the evidence. These studies can be holistic or embedded, the
latter occurring when the same case study involves more than one unit of analysis. Multiple-case
studies follow a replication logic. This is not to be confused with sampling logic where a selection is

made out of a population, for inclusion in the study. This type of sample selection is improper in a
case study. Each individual case study consists of a "whole" study, in which facts are gathered from
various sources and conclusions drawn on those facts.
Yin (1994) asserted that a case study investigator must be able to operate as a senior
investigator during the course of data collection. There should be a period of training which begins
with the examination of the definition of the problem and the development of the case study design. If
there is only a single investigator, this might not be necessary. The training would cover aspects that
the investigator needs to know, such as: the reason for the study, the type of evidence being sought,
and what variations might be expected. This could take the form of discussion rather than formal
lectures.
A case study protocol contains more than the survey instrument, it should also contain
procedures and general rules that should be followed in using the instrument. It is to be created prior
to the data collection phase. It is essential in a multiple-case study, and desirable in a single-case
study. Yin (1994) presented the protocol as a major component in asserting the reliability of the case
study research. A typical protocol should have the following sections:

An overview of the case study project (objectives, issues, topics being investigated)
Field procedures (credentials and access to sites, sources of information)
Case study questions (specific questions that the investigator must keep in mind during data
collection)
A guide for case study report (outline, format for the narrative) (Yin, 1994, p. 64).

The overview should communicate to the reader the general topic of inquiry and the purpose
of the case study. The field procedures mostly involve data collection issues and must be properly
designed. The investigator does not control the data collection environment (Yin, 1994) as in other
research strategies; hence the procedures become all the more important. During interviews, which by
nature are open ended, the subject's schedule must dictate the activity (Stake, 1995). Gaining access
to the subject organization, having sufficient resources while in the field, clearly scheduling data
collection activities, and providing for unanticipated events, must all be planned for.
Case study questions are posed to the investigator, and must serve to remind that person of the
data to be collected and its possible sources. The guide for the case study report is often neglected,
but case studies do not have the uniform outline, as do other research reports. It is essential to plan
this report as the case develops, to avoid problems at the end.
Stake (1995), and Yin (1994) identified at least six sources of evidence in case studies. The
following is not an ordered list, but reflects the research of both Yin (1994) and Stake (1995):

Documents
Archival records
Interviews
Direct observation
Participant-observation
Physical artifacts

Documents could be letters, memoranda, agendas, administrative documents, newspaper


articles, or any document that is germane to the investigation. In the interest of triangulation of
evidence, the documents serve to corroborate the evidence from other sources. Documents are also
useful for making inferences about events. Documents can lead to false leads, in the hands of
inexperienced researchers, which has been a criticism of case study research. Documents are
communications between parties in the study, the researcher being a vicarious observer; keeping this
in mind will help the investigator avoid being misled by such documents.
Archival documents can be service records, organizational records, lists of names, survey
data, and other such records. The investigator has to be careful in evaluating the accuracy of the
records before using them. Even if the records are quantitative, they might still not be accurate.
Interviews are one of the most important sources of case study information. There are several
forms of interviews that are possible: Open-ended, Focused, and Structured or survey. In an openended interview, key respondents are asked to comment about certain events. They may propose
solutions or provide insight into events. They may also corroborate evidence obtained from other
sources. The researcher must avoid becoming dependent on a single informant, and seek the same
data from other sources to verify its authenticity.
The focused interview is used in a situation where the respondent is interviewed for a short
period of time, usually answering set questions. This technique is often used to confirm data collected
from another source.
The structured interview is similar to a survey, and is used to gather data in cases such as
neighborhood studies. The questions are detailed and developed in advance, much as they are in a
survey.
Direct observation occurs when a field visit is conducted during the case study. It could be as
simple as casual data collection activities, or formal protocols to measure and record behaviors. This
technique is useful for providing additional information about the topic being studied. The reliability
is enhanced when more than one observer is involved in the task. Glesne and Peshkin (1992)
recommended that researchers should be as unobtrusive as the wallpaper.
Participant-observation makes the researcher into an active participant in the events being
studied. This often occurs in studies of neighborhoods or groups. The technique provides some
unusual opportunities for collecting data, but could face some major problems as well. The researcher
could well alter the course of events as part of the group, which may not be helpful to the study.
Physical artifacts can be tools, instruments, or some other physical evidence that may be
collected during the study as part of a field visit. The perspective of the researcher can be broadened
as a result of the discovery.
It is important to keep in mind that not all sources are relevant for all case studies (Yin, 1994). The
investigator should be capable of dealing with all of them, should it be necessary, but each case will
present different opportunities for data collection.

There are some conditions that arise when a case researcher must start data collection before
the study questions have been defined and finalized (Yin, 1994). This is likely to be successful only
with an experienced investigator. Another important point to review is the benefit of using rival
hypotheses and theories as a means of adding quality control to the case study. This improves the
perception of the fairness and serious thinking of the researcher.

5. Summing up
Case studies are particularly useful in depicting a holistic portrayal of a client's experiences
and results regarding a program. For example, to evaluate the effectiveness of a program's processes,
including its strengths and weaknesses, evaluators might develop cases studies on the program's
successes and failures. Case studies are used to organize a wide range of information about a case and
then analyze the contents by seeking patterns and themes in the data, and by further analysis through
cross comparison with other cases. A case can be individuals, programs, or any unit, depending on
what the program evaluators want to examine through in-depth analysis and comparison.
Case studies are complex because they generally involve multiple sources of data, may
include multiple cases within a study, and produce large amounts of data for analysis. Researchers
from many disciplines use the case study method to build upon theory, to produce new theory, to
dispute or challenge theory, to explain a situation, to provide a basis to apply solutions to situations,
to explore, or to describe an object or phenomenon. The advantages of the case study method are its
applicability to real-life, contemporary, human situations and its public accessibility through written
reports. Case study results relate directly to the common readers everyday experience and facilitate
an understanding of complex real-life situations.

6. Keywords
Achieve: An archive is a collection of historical records, as well as the place they are located.
Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or
organization's lifetime.
In general, archives consist of records that have been selected for permanent or long-term
preservation on grounds of their enduring cultural, historical, or evidentiary value. Archival records
are normally unpublished and almost always unique, unlike books or magazines for which many
identical copies exist. This means that archives (the places) are quite distinct from libraries with
regard to their functions and organization, although archival collections can often be found within
library buildings.
Artifact: The word "artifact" can be confusing because it masks a number of unexamined
assumptions. In academic parlance, "artifact" can refer to a physical object, a primary record, or a
physical object that constitutes a primary record.

Case study: A case study is a research methodology common in social science. It is based on an indepth investigation of a single individual, group, or event to explore causation in order to find
underlying principles.
Data: The term data means groups of information that represent the qualitative or quantitative
attributes of a variable or set of variables. Data (plural of "datum", which is seldom used) are
typically the results of measurements and can be the basis of graphs, images, or observations of a set
of variables. Data are often viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which information and
knowledge are derived. Raw data refers to a collection of numbers, characters, images or other
outputs from devices that collect information to convert physical quantities into symbols, that are
unprocessed.
Document: A document (noun) is a bounded physical or digital representation of a body of
information designed with the capacity (and usually intent) to communicate. A document may
manifest symbolic, diagrammatic or sensory-representational information. To document (verb) is to
produce a document artifact by collecting and representing information. In prototypical usage, a
document is understood as a paper artifact, containing information in the form of ink marks.
Increasingly documents are also understood as digital artifacts.
Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is an ordered sequence of symbols. As a concept,
however, information has many meanings.[1] Moreover, the concept of information is closely related
to notions of constraint, communication, control, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, mental
stimulus, pattern, perception, and representation.

7. Know your Progress


1)

What is a case study?

2)

What are the important sources of evidence in case studies?

8. Further Reading / References


Alvarez, M., Binkley, E., Bivens, J., Highers, P., Poole, C., & Walker, P (1990). Case-based
instruction and learning: An interdisciplinary project. Proceedings of 34th Annual Conference (pp. 218), College Reading Association. Reprint.
Boisjoly, R., & DeMichiell, R. (1994). A business outcome model with an international component:
A new workplace dictates new learning objectives. In H. Klein (Ed.), WACRA Conference (pp. 6777). Needham, MA.
Brearley, D. (1993, September). The case study: Threat or opportunity? Counselor Education and
Supervision, 33, 35-37.

Campbell, D. (1975). Degrees of freedom and the case study. Comparative Political Studies, 8, 178185.
Carney, C. (1995). Teaching with cases in the Interdisciplinary classroom: Combining business
language and culture. In H. Klein (Ed.), WACRA Conference (pp.117-127). Needham, MA.
Crossland, F. (1980). Learning to cope with a downward slope. Change, 18, 20-25.
Eisner, E., & Peshkin, A. (Eds.). (1990). Qualitative inquiry in education. New York: Teachers
College Press.
Evans, R. (1976). Smoking in children: Developing a social psychological strategy of deterrence.
Preventive Medicine, 5, 122-140.
Feagin, J., Orum, A., & Sjoberg, G. (Eds.), (1991). A case for case study. University of North
Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC:
Garvin, D. (1991). A delicate balance: Ethical dilemmas and the discussion process. In C.
Christensen, et al. (Eds.), Education for judgement: The artistry of discussion leadership (pp. 287304, Harvard Business School.), Cambridge, MA.
Giddens, A. (1984). In R. Yin (1993). Applications of case study research. Sage Publishing, Beverly
Hills, CA.
Glesne, C., & Peshkin, A. (1992). Becoming qualitative researchers. Longman. New York.
Gopelrud, E. (1989, May). Presentation at Demand Reduction Task Force meeting,
Prevention/Education Programs of ADAMHA.
Greenwald, B. (1991). Teaching technical material. In C. Christensen, et al. (Eds.), Education for
judgment: The artistry of discussion leadership (pp. 193-214, Harvard Business School. ).
Cambridge, MA.
Hamel, J., Dufour, S., & Fortin, D. (1993). Case study methods. Sage Publications. Newbury Park,
CA.
Holder, H. (Ed). (1987). Control issues in alcohol abuse prevention: Strategies for states and
communitiesJAI Press, Greenwich, CT.
King, J., & Kraemer, K. (1985). The dynamics of computing. Columbia University Press. New York.
Levy, S. (1988). Information technologies in universities: An institutional case study. Unpubished
doctoral dissertation, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff.
Miles, M., & Huberman, M. (1984). Qualitative data analysis: A source book for new methods. Sage
Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Nicklin, J (1992, February 26). Harvard University reports $42 million deficit. Chronicle of Higher
Education, 38(25), 33-34.
Pyecha, J. (1988). A case study of the application of noncategorical special education in two states.
Chapel Hill, NC: Research Triangle Institute.
Runkel, P. (1990). Casting nets and testing specimens: Two grand methods of psychology. Praeger,
New York.
Sabol, (1990). Learning about the effects of community based prevention: A progress report. Cosmos
Corp, Washington, DC.
Stake, R. (1995). The art of case research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Strauss, A. and Glaser, B. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative
research. Aldine, Chicago.
Yin, R. (1984). Case study research: Design and methods (1st ed.). Sage Publishing. Beverly Hills,
CA.
Yin, R. (1989a). Case study research: Design and methods (Rev. ed.).: Sage Publishing. Beverly
Hills, CA.
Yin, R. (1989b). Inter-organizational partnerships in local job creation and job training efforts.
COSMOS Corp., Washington, DC.
Yin, R. (1993). Applications of case study research. Sage Publishing, Beverly Hills, CA.
Yin, R. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods (2nd ed.).: Sage Publishing. Beverly Hills,
CA.
Yin, R., & Moore, G. (1987). The use of advanced technologies in special education. Journal of
Learning Disabilities, 20(1), 60.
Zonabend, F. (1992, Spring). The monograph in European ethnology. Current Sociology, 40(1), 4960.
9. Model Answers
1.
A case study is a research methodology common in social science. It is based on an in-depth
investigation of a single individual, group, or event to explore causation in order to find underlying
principles. Rather than using samples and following a rigid protocol(strict set of rules) to examine
limited number of variables, case study methods involve an in-depth, longitudinal(over a long period
of time) examination of a single instance or event: a case. They provide a systematic way of looking
at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. As a result the researcher
may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did, and what might become
important to look at more extensively in future research. Case studies lend themselves to both
generating and testing hypotheses write a research proposal, and common mistakes in research
proposal writing.

2.

One can identify the following six sources of evidence in case studies.
Documents
Archival records
Interviews
Direct observation
Participant-observation
Physical artifacts

UNIT- 3 : FORMAT FOR WRITING


CASE STUDY REPORT
Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
3. How to Write a Case Study?
3.1 Case study organising tips
3.2 Case study writing tips
4. Format of Case Study
5. Summing up
6. Keywords
7. Know your Progress
8. Further Reading / References
9. Model Answers

1. Introduction
Case studies are essentially summaries or syntheses of real-life stories and / or situations
based on a combination of primary research and secondary data. Their purpose is to make information
and experience available to those outside the immediate situation; whether for specific audiences
(such as donors or policy makers) or for more general purposes (to raise greater awareness for those
involved in similar activities elsewhere or for the general public). Sometimes case studies are
produced primarily as skills training or teaching tools because they provide more dynamic and real
life learning experiences. In this Unit, we shall discuss about the format for writing a good case
study report.

2. Objectives
After studying this Unit, you should be able to:

Appreciate Case Study Organising tips;


Know the various tips for writing case studies; and
Develop a format for writing a case study

3. How to Write a Case Study?


3.1 Case study organising tips: Before beginning to outline a case study, writers must decide
on less than six dominant Issues. Writer should keep diary, note book, pen, and tape recorder with
her/him during interview. S/he should take enough time for rapport building. Case writers must ask,
"What is this case study about?" Each issue (topic meant for discussion) should be written in the form
of a simple question (For example: What types of development goals are effective?). Writer should
select suitable time and venue by preliminary discussion with concerned person(s). S/he has to go to
selected venue timely for listening and write after listening clearly or use tape recorder. If the words,
phrases and sentences are not clear s/he should ask question(s). Writer should write topic by using
direct speech. S/he shouldnt ask question at the middle of a conversation that may be disturbing.
Rather s/he may write the question for later. S/he shouldnt give any opinion or ask any question that
will make emotional to the respondent. If s/he has any opinion about the event s/he may write it in
other paragraph with relevant figure and facts. After completion of interview s/he should read whole
story to respondent or set on the recorder for review and re-visit. S/he should include relevant
photo(s) with the case study.
3.2 Case study writing tips
a) Keep your audience in mind: Remember that you are writing for program team or discussants who
may not be familiar with the background, details, and terminology of the situation. Keep jargon to a
minimum.
b) Use short-story-writing techniques: A case has flesh-and-blood characters who should be
interesting. Each story element should move the narrative forward.
c) Openings: Grab the reader with a character facing his or her biggest problem: set the scene for the
arguments, the frustrations, and the main conflicts.
d) Present situations and scenes without any attempt at analysis: Scenes must follow a logical order
and should illustrate a point, concept, or issue that relates to the problems that the writer wants to
have analyzed. Do not give any signals that one solution might be preferred.
e) Provide relevant details: After an opening that sets up the situation, provide relevant details about
goals, strategies, dilemmas, issues, conflicts, roadblocks, appropriate research, relevant financial

information, people, and relationships. Be careful with numbers; they must help solve the problems,
not confuse readers or send them off on unproductive analytic tangents.
f) Use as much dialogue as possible: Make the characters come alive with dialogue. Straight
narrative is boring.
g) Endings: Leave the reader with a clear picture of the major problems--either ask or imply "what is
to be done now?" If you have any recommendation(s) please dont forget to write it clearly.

4. Format of Case Study


Term Definition
Title Page

Abstract or Executive
Summary

Contents Page

Term Definition
Topic of the research
Name of the researcher
Name of programme
Date
Abstract (no more than 250 words).
Short summary of complete contents:
What were your research questions and why were these
important?
How did you go about answering research questions?
hat did you find out in response to research questions
What conclusion did you draw regarding research
questions?

Executive Summary (5% of the report or 2/3 pages)


Summary of important aspects of each report
Topic area
Primary aims
Key findings
Summary of your approach
Summary of your recommendations
Title
Abstract
1. Introduction
2. Background
3. Approach
4. Data analysis and findings
4.1.
4.2.
4.3.
4.4.
5. Recommendations
6. Conclusions
7. References

Introduction

8. Appendix
Introduction to research report (to provide necessary information
to the reader for better understanding and comprehension of the
report).

Objective and purpose of the report


Brief outline of the problems.
How the report is organised/sign posting/ route map

Background

Description of the current situation the context (e.g.Development of organisation over time, competitive environment,
success and survival factors).

Approach or Methodology

How the investigation was carried out.


Explain your methodology
Justify your choice of analysis tools
Refer to theories/models and relevant publications
Data analysis and findings (structure your chapter around
the research questions)
If you are dealing with two or three issues in one report,
it may make sense to group the analysis, findings and
recommendations on one issue together before tackling
the next.
Systematic analysis of the data in the case, employing, in
turn, each of the elements of relevant theory you have
been taught.
Extraction of the relevant parts of these analyses to
answer the question you have been set.
Think hard about your conclusions and recommendations.
Have you really demonstrated them, backing up your
reasoning with hard evidence (events and results) from the
case study? Have you allowed yourself to be swayed by the
opinions of the organisations own managers? They have a
vested interest in showing their actions in the best possible
light. You do not have to agree. Do the facts support their
claims of success, or their excuses for failure?

Findings

Recommendations

Conclusion

Reference List
Appendices

Make sure that, in developing recommendations:


You have considered the alternatives. There is hardly
ever just one,
You have made it clear why the recommendation you
have chosen is the best of the available alternatives. That
means showing what is wrong with the others
You have looked at the downside of your proposals. Try
to avoid
proposals that would bankrupt the company if they failed,
or which can be easily copied by the competition.
Restate the aim of the report and state how you have achieved
it. Present the main findings and key recommendations in a
summarised form for the reader's benefit. You should also
restate the limitations of the report.
A list of all sources referred to in the report
Additional information that supports the findings, conclusions
and recommendations

5. Summing up
Case study is an ideal methodology when a holistic, in-depth investigation is needed. Rather
than using large samples and following a rigid protocol to examine a limited number of variables,
case study methods involve an in-depth, longitudinal examination of a single instance or event: a
case. Before beginning to outline a case study, writers must decide on less than six dominant Issues.
Writer should keep diary, note book, pen, and tape recorder with her/him during interview. S/he
should take enough time for rapport building. Case writers must ask, "What is this case study about?"
Each issue (topic meant for discussion) should be written in the form of a simple question.
To evaluate the effectiveness of a programme's processes, including its strengths and weaknesses,
evaluators might develop cases studies on the program's successes and failures. Case studies are used
to organize a wide range of information about a case and then analyze the contents by seeking
patterns and themes in the data, and by further analysis through cross comparison with other cases.

6. Keywords
Audience: An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art,
literature (in which they are called the "reader"), theatre, music or academics in any medium.
Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt
audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception.
Dialogue: Dialogue (sometimes dialog in North American English) is a literary form, the most
notable examples of which in Western literature are the dialogues of Plato.
Its chief historical origins as narrative, philosophical or didactic device are to be found in classical
Greek and Indian literature, in particular in the ancient art of rhetoric. Its everyday basis and
counterpart is a conversational exchange between two or more people.
Donor: A donor in general is a person that donates something voluntarily. Usually used to represent
a form of pure altruism but sometimes used when the payment for a service is recognised by all
parties as representing less than the value of the donation and that the motivation is altruistic. In
business law, a donor is someone who is giving the gift, and a donee the person receiving the gift.
Primary research: Primary research (also called field research) involves the collection of data
that does not already exist. This can be through numerous forms, including questionnaires, direct
observation and telephone interviews amongst others. This information may be collected in things
like questionnaires and interviews.
Secondary data: It is data collected by someone other than the user. Common sources of secondary
data for social science include censuses, surveys, organizational records and data collected through
qualitative methodologies or qualitative research. Primary data, by contrast, are collected by the
investigator conducting the research.
Short story writing techniques: While short-story writing uses many of the same techniques you'd
use to write any story, the way the techniques are used often vary to accommodate the length of the
shorter work.

7. Know your Progress


1. What do you mean by economic development and economic growth?
2. How do we measure economic growth?

8. Further Reading / References


Baxter, P and Jack, S. (2008) Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study design and implementation
for novice researchers, in The Qualitative Report, 13(4): 544-559. Available from [4]
Dul, J. and Hak, T (2008). Case Study Methodology in Business Research. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Oxford:, ISBN 978-0-7506-8196-4.
Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. The Academy of Management
Review, 14 (4), Oct, 532-550. doi:10.2307/258557
Flyvbjerg, Bent. (2006). Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research, in Qualitative Inquiry,
12(2): 219-245. Available:[5] Bent Flyvbjerg, Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry
Fails and How It Can Succeed Again (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). ISBN
052177568X
George, Alexander L. and Bennett,Andrew. (2005). Case studies and theory development in the
social sciences. MIT Press 2005, London, ISBN 0-262-57222-2
Gerring, John. (2005) Case Study Research. Cambridge University Press. New York:, ISBN 978-0521-67656-4
Hanck, Bob. (2009) Intelligent Research Design. A guide for beginning researchers in the social
sciences. Oxford University Press.
Lijphart, Arend.(1971)Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method,in The American Political
Science Review, 65(3): 682-693. Available from [6]
Ragin, Charles C. and Becker, Howard S. eds. (1992) What is a Case? Exploring the Foundations of
Social Inquiry Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, ISBN 0521421888
Scholz, Roland W. and Tietje, Olaf. (2002) Embedded Case Study Methods. Integrating Quantitative
and Qualitative Knowledge. Sage Publications. Thousand Oaks 2002, ISBN 0761919465
,9337270973
Straits, Bruce C. and Singleton, Royce A. (2004) Approaches to Social Research, 4th ed., Oxford
University Press. ISBN 0195147944 Available from: [7]

9. Model Answers
1.

Before beginning to outline a case study, writers must decide on less than six dominant Issues.
1. Writer should keep diary, note book, pen, and tape recorder with her/him during interview.
2. S/he should take enough time for rapport building. Case writers must ask, "What is this case
study about?"
3. Each issue (topic meant for discussion) should be written in the form of a simple question
(For example: What types of development goals are effective?).
4. Writer should select suitable time and venue by preliminary discussion with concerned
person(s).
5. S/he has to go to selected venue timely for listening and write after listening clearly or use
tape recorder. If the words, phrases and sentences are not clear s/he should ask question(s).
Writer should write topic by using direct speech. S/he shouldnt ask question at the middle of
a conversation that may be disturbing. Rather s/he may write the question for later. S/he
shouldnt give any opinion or ask any question that will make emotional to the respondent. If
s/he has any opinion about the event s/he may write it in other paragraph with relevant figure
and facts.
6. After completion of interview s/he should read whole story to respondent or set on the
recorder for review and re-visit. S/He should include relevant photo(s) with the case study.

2. The case study writer should attach importance to the following elements in mind.
a) Keep your audience in mind: Remember that you are writing for program team or discussants who
may not be familiar with the background, details, and terminology of the situation. Keep jargon to a
minimum.
b) Use short-story-writing techniques: A case has flesh-and-blood characters who should be
interesting. Each story element should move the narrative forward.
c) Openings: Grab the reader with a character facing his or her biggest problem: set the scene for the
arguments, the frustrations, and the main conflicts.
d) Present situations and scenes without any attempt at analysis: Scenes must follow a logical order
and should illustrate a point, concept, or issue that relates to the problems that the writer wants to
have analyzed. Do not give any signals that one solution might be preferred.
e) Provide relevant details: After an opening that sets up the situation, provide relevant details about
goals, strategies, dilemmas, issues, conflicts, roadblocks, appropriate research, relevant financial
information, people, and relationships. Be careful with numbers; they must help solve the problems,
not confuse readers or send them off on unproductive analytic tangents.

f) Use as much dialogue as possible: Make the characters come alive with dialogue. Straight
narrative is boring.
g) Endings: Leave the reader with a clear picture of the major problems--either ask or imply "what is
to be done now?" If you have any recommendation(s) please dont forget to write it clearly.

UNIT- 4: HOW TO EVALUATE RURAL DEVELOPMENT


SCHEMES
Structure
1. Introduction
2. Objectives
2.1 Types and purposes of evaluation
2.2 Designing the evaluation system
2.3 The intervention logic
2.4 Examining the impacts of the programmes
3. Evaluation Questions, Criteria and Indicators
3.1. Common evaluation questions
3.2. Questions for individual programmes
3.3 Using appropriate criteria and indicators
4. Evaluation Methodology
4.1. Use of recognised methods
4.2. Data collection
4.2.1 Secondary data
4.2.2 Primary data
4.3. Data analysis
5. Reporting on the Evaluation
5.1 The recommended common structure for the reports
6. Summing up
7. Keywords
8. Know your Progress
9. Further Reading / References
10. Model Answers

1. Introduction
The present Unit offers information about evaluation in the context of rural development.
Rural development evaluation must provide information on the implementation and impacts of the
programmes. The aims are, on the one hand, to increase the accountability and transparency with
regard to the legal and budget authorities and the public and, on the other hand, to improve the
implementation of the programmes by contributing to informed planning and decisions concerning
needs, delivery mechanisms and resource allocation.
More specifically, evaluation helps to assess key aspects of the assistance (i.e., the relevance,
effectiveness, efficiency, utility, sustainability of the assisted actions, depending on the stage of
programme implementation) in relation to the general objectives of the rural development policy at
Community level as well as in relation to the specific needs and priorities incorporated into each rural
development programming document.

2. Objectives
After studying this Unit, you should be able to:

Scope, types and purposes of evaluation;


Setting up the evaluation: general concepts with reference to designing the evaluation system and
functions of evaluation;
Examining the impacts of the programme;
Evaluation questions, criteria and indicators; and
Evaluation methodology

2.1 Types and purposes of programme evaluation


The programme evaluation is carried out at the ex ante, mid term and ex post stage of the
programming cycle. The major purposes of these evaluations are described in Box 1.
Box 1
Ex- ante evaluation
The ex ante evaluation helps to prepare the rural development plan and facilitates its
implementation. In particular it helps in clarifying the objectives, their relevance to the
needs and in assuring consistency between the proposed strategy and the selected targets
with the existing situation in the region or sectors concerned. A proper ex ante evaluation
facilitates the Commissions task of appraising the rural development plan.
Mid-term evaluation
The mid-term evaluation helps to reorient the programme if necessary and improve the
implementation. It can also provide important information to authorities with general
responsibilities in relation to the programme.
Ex- post evaluation
The ex post evaluation recapitulates and judges an intervention when it is over. It is
central for the accountability and the transparency of the interventions with regard to the
legal and budgetary authorities and the public. It can also give guidance about a possible
follow-up to the programme, e.g., in the form of best practices.

2.2 Designing the evaluation system


The arrangements for evaluating the rural development programme should in part be provided
by the programme itself and in part by the common evaluation questions with criteria and indicators.
In particular the mid term and ex post evaluations must consider two types of evaluation questions,
i.e., those which are specific for the individual rural development programme and the common

evaluation questions relevant at the Community level. the rural development plan must describe the
arrangements for the programme specific part of the evaluation. The arrangements for evaluating the
rural development programme should be designed as an articulated process in order to maximise the
quality and usefulness of its results.
The contents of the evaluation will vary according to the stage (ex ante, mid term, ex post) of
programme implementation as explained in Box 2.
Box 2 Functions of evaluation
The ex- ante evaluation shall analyse the disparities, gaps and potential of the current
situation and assess the consistency of the proposed strategy with the situation and
targets and have regard to the issues raised in the common evaluation questions. It shall
assess the expected impact of the selected priorities for action and quantify their targets
where they lend themselves thereto.
The mid term evaluation, while covering the evaluation questions, shall in particular
examine the initial achievements, their relevance and consistency with the rural
development plan and the extent to which the targets have been attained.
The ex- post evaluation, while answering the evaluation questions, shall in particular
examine the utilisation of resources and the effectiveness and efficiency of the
assistance and its impacts and it shall draw conclusions regarding rural development
policy.
The evaluations at the various stages of the programme implementation must deal with
aspects such as relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, utility and the sustainability of the
results. Relevance is mainly related to the ex ante situation, while the utility and the
sustainability of the results are particularly relevant for the ex post situation.

The ex- ante evaluation takes place before the implementation of the programme and
examines the proposed strategy. The mid term evaluation should consider the results of previous ex
ante evaluation, and the ex post evaluation should consider the conclusions of the mid term
evaluation.

2.3 The intervention logic


Evaluations should focus on the results and impacts of the programme. Figure 1 shows how,
within the programming cycle, results and impacts are related to the objectives derived from the
needs identified in the region or sector. Such needs relate to socioeconomic or environmental
problems to which the programme should respond. The inputs are financial or administrative
resources. Through programme activities they produce the outputs and achieve the intended
operational objectives. The subsequent results are the most immediate impacts of the assistance, in

other words the contribution of the operational objectives to the specific objectives. The mid term
evaluation will have to focus on these aspects. Irrigation piping or canals are examples of output, and
the availability of water to new areas, or water of better quality, could be the results. The latter
respond to the specific objectives. The impacts derive from the results. From the above example, an
intermediate impact might be a reorientation in the local cropping system or reduced local soil
pollution due to better quality irrigation water. Later on, more global impacts might be a higher level
of agricultural income or a change in market balance due to the availability of water for certain crops.
Global impacts respond to the overall objectives of the programme and, in a well-designed
programme, they meet the previously identified needs that led to the implementation of the
programme. There may also be unexpected, possibly negative impacts. For example, in the case of
irrigation it might be pertinent to look for impacts such as partial depletion of the water resource or
salination.
Intermediate impacts may be obvious soon after the assisted action has produced the direct
outputs while more global ones may become apparent only at a later time and may reach other or
more people than those directly targeted by the assisted action. Obviously, the evaluation should take
this into account and avoid looking for impacts that have not yet been produced. The reconstruction
of the links between the inputs, outputs, results and impacts of the programme is called the
intervention logic. It shows how assistance is transformed into intermediate and global impacts such
as rationalised agricultural production, stabilised agricultural markets, improvement of rural living
conditions or protection of the rural environment. The elaboration of this into a so-called Logical
Diagram of Impacts can help clarify the intervention logic of a programme, see for example Box 2.

Needs

Specific
Objectiv

Specific
Objectiv

Specific
Objectiv

Specific
Objectiv
Specific
Objectiv

Operational
Objective

Inputs

Fig. 1

Box 2 The Logical Diagramme of Impacts (LDI)

Usually it is straightforward to identify the outputs and the expected global impacts of a
programme, but it may be difficult to identify how the outputs are transformed into global
impacts. A Logical Diagramme of Impacts can help clarify the intermediate impacts
arising from the assistance. It identifies causal links and describes what the outputs
contribute to, and from which action the impacts are produced.
Output 1

Result 1

Impact 1

Output 2

Result 2

Impact 2

Output n

Result n

2.4

Global Impact

Examining the impacts of the programme

Evaluation must go beyond monitoring, reporting and auditing which deal with inputs, outputs
and sometimes with results. Too often evaluations are restricted to the gathering of data about how
the financial inputs were used and about the direct outputs that have been paid for. Evaluation must
be concerned with the impacts whether they are positive, negative, expected or unexpected, and
including those which only become manifest in the long term or which are to the advantage of
persons other than the direct beneficiaries.
A single intervention can contribute to several impacts as illustrated in the above
outline of a Logic Diagram of Impacts. For example, processing equipment can contribute to the
development of new products and outlets as well as to the rationalisation of processing procedures
and cost reduction. Moreover, several outputs can contribute to the same impact. Environmental
concerns are often cross-cutting and can be partly dealt with through a training scheme by investing
in adapted equipment or by modifying agricultural practices. The evaluation should take such
interactions between different actions into account and should examine the complementarity and
synergy effects they may produce. The evaluation may also have regard to certain aspects of other
Community or national measures that may interact with the rural development program.
Evaluation should focus on aspects such as the utility, relevance, coherence, effectiveness,
efficiency and sustainability of the results. The pertinence and relative importance of these aspects
would vary according to the stage of implementation of the programme. It is also important to

distinguish net and gross effects and the possible contribution of exogenous factors (e.g., local
context or market influence) to the impacts in order to identify more precisely what can be attributed
to the evaluated assistance. Further aspects such as deadweight effect that may influence the
achievement of the objectives must also be examined. The influence of the implementing procedure
must also be examined in so far as they influence the effectiveness and efficiency of the assistance.

3. Evaluation Questions, Criteria and Indicators


3.1 Common evaluation questions
Evaluations should respond to common evaluation questions which must be accompanied by
achievement related to criteria and indicators. These questions are of interest beyond the beneficiaries
of the programme, i.e., at the sectoral, national and, above all, the Community level. Hence, they help
to assure the assessment of the added value of the programme at Community level.
It must be substantiated if a common evaluation question is inappropriate in relation to a
particular rural development plan. Hence, a particular common question is considered applicable and
must be answered if a measure is being implemented, which would normally produce the result or
impact under consideration.
Notwithstanding this requirement, the evaluation ought also to reflect the balance, including
the financial volume, of the measures selected in the programming. This means that in exceptional
and well-justified cases the evaluation may partly concentrate on those of the applicable common
questions that really reflect the key issues of the programme. However, such concentration must by
no means jeopardise the scope and quality of the evaluation.
In order to facilitate the aggregation of results at Community level, the authorities
responsible for programme management must integrate the common questions in their terms of
reference when they are relevant to the programme. They may also complement the predefined
common evaluation questions, either by adding more sub-questions or by adding criteria and
indicators that supplement the predefined ones according to the characteristics of the programme.

Common cross-cutting evaluation questions


1. To what extent has the assistance influenced the population level, composition
and distribution in rural areas?
2. To what extent has the assistance been conducive to securing employment?
3. To what extent has the assistance been conducive to provide an appropriate level
of income to the rural community?
4. To what extent has the market situation been improved through the assistance
especially from redeploying production, improving quality and competitiveness?
5. To what extent have environmental concerns been integrated into rural
development programming so as to improve the environmental aspects of
activities in rural areas, including agricultural practices?
6. To what extent have programming and implementation helped in producing the
anticipated impacts?

3.2 Questions for individual programmes


In addition to the common questions defined at Community level, the responsible
authorities need to formulate specific evaluation questions. These questions should respond to the
situation of the specific programme in terms of its context, for example the natural conditions or in
terms of its specific objectives and eligibility conditions. Appropriate indicators should, as a general
rule, accompany such questions. Evidently, the programme specific part of the evaluation should
reflect the balance of measures contained in the programme and should also cover the compulsory
agri-environmental measures in an appropriate manner.
3.3 Using appropriate criteria and indicators
For a particular evaluation question, the criterion would help to formulate a judgment on the
success of the assistance under examination by linking the indicator to the expected result or impact.
If the question, for example is: To what extent has the scheme reduced the cost of processing and
marketing of agricultural products?, then the criterion would be the cost have been reduced by X
%. For the reason set out below it would be necessary to split such a criterion in its two parts (a) the
cost have been reduced and (b) by X %. The first part (a) is commonly referred to as criterion in
this document while the second part (b) is referred to as the target level, i.e. the level expected to be
reached to fulfill the criterion and assess that the assistance has been successful.
Rural development programmes are set up to meet specific regional, local or sectoral
objectives. Hence, for a given criterion it may be necessary to have different target levels in different
programmes. The precise target level can be defined in relation to a baseline or a benchmark.
Indicators may, depending on the implementing stage of the programme, relate to an output, a
result or an impact. A single question may include more than one criterion and more than one
indicator. Such programme indicators are quantified from the monitoring systems or from data
collected ad hoc for the evaluation.
Programme indicators attempt to measure the direct or indirect effects of the programme. By
contrast, context indicators apply to an entire territory, population or category, for example a
particular agricultural sector within the relevant region or country. By measuring appropriate
economic, social or environmental variables, such indicators can put the programme into perspective.
A context indicator may, for example, show that a certain programme, albeit successful in relation to
its own given objectives, is no longer justified or, on the contrary, that a certain type of aid is still
relevant even if the relevant programme indicator demonstrates limited progress. Some context
indicators may justify regular monitoring while others should be collected ad hoc for the evaluation.
In principle, indicators should be provided at the same geographic scale as the rural
development programme. However, certain measures may not apply throughout the whole area
covered by the programme or may be specifically targeted according to the areas concerned.
Indicators are important in providing factual information, but often they would neither
completely cover nor explain the causes acting behind the facts. They are instruments to help answer

the evaluation question, but they do not constitute the complete answer. A wider data collection as
well as a qualitative assessment may well be necessary to provide comprehensive and fully reliable
findings.
Indicators can be used at the different stages of the intervention logic. Various programme
indicators should be used according to the level of evaluation: output indicators when dealing with
outputs, result indicators to assess the results, impact indicators to assess the impacts. A particular
output may simultaneously contribute to several impacts. For instance, piping and canals built can
contribute to provide more water in a given area and simultaneously influence the quality of water.
Also, the quantity of water used in a given area may influence both the level of salination and the
depletion of water in this area. An impact may also derive from several elements in the intervention
logic: the improvement of farmers income could be due to the irrigation as such or due to the
reorientation in the cropping system which it may lead to.
Criteria and indicators help to answer questions that have been defined in relation to the
objectives at the level of the regulation and the individual programme. Other sources of information,
such as previous evaluations, studies, or research can also contribute to the answers. Certain key
evaluation aspects should be taken into account for answering the questions. Questions may refer to
effectiveness, efficiency, utility, etc This should be considered when collecting the information. In
order to assess the net effects and have then more reliable evaluation results, it is also necessary to
take into account factors such as exogenous factors, displacement effect, etc.
4. Evaluation Methodology
4.1. Use of recognised methods
Evaluations need to be performed in accordance with recognised evaluation practice. The
evaluation reports must explain the methodologies applied, including the implications for the quality
of the data and the findings. Hence, the report must indicate the sampling techniques and the data
sources that have been used to collect data. This should enable the reliability of the evaluation
findings to be assessed and facilitate the production of sound and useful conclusions and
recommendations.
4.2. Data collection
The data collection should be performed with a view to the subsequent analysis.
It is necessary to assemble the appropriate resources for evaluations while making use of monitoring
results supplemented where necessary by the gathering of additional information.
4.2.1 Secondary data
Firstly, this means that optimum use should be made of so called secondary data, i.e., date that
exist already, for example from the monitoring system. They may sometimes be sufficient to answer a
question or a part of it. As such data are already available they can be assembled at a moderate cost.
Hence, it is important to have a well-designed monitoring system. The use of monitoring data would
especially be important in the mid term evaluation. Other secondary data may be obtained from

existing surveys, previous evaluations or programming documents. Programme documents and


monitoring data can often especially provide financial information (inputs) and information about the
outputs. National statistics offices, and sources l may provide information concerning the baseline
situation, the contextual situation or exogenous factors for a certain area or type of agricultural
holding.
4.2.2 Primary data
Primary data, i.e., data collected ad hoc for the evaluation, are collected most often among the
direct or indirect beneficiaries. Representative sampling methods are essential for the collection of
primary data. This means that the units (holdings, persons, etc) under investigation must represent the
programme in a satisfactorily way. The sample must comply with statistical rules, for example
concerning the size of the sample compared to the variance of the data or the manner in which the
units are selected, e.g. using stratified sampling, in order to enhance representativity and avoid biases.
Sampled data can be scaled up with the aid of the monitoring indicators provided that the sample
corresponds to the monitoring categories. Numerous tools such as questionnaires, interviews or case
studies exist for extracting the information. Questionnaires can be used to collect quantitative or
qualitative information. They can be used for larger samples than, for example, interviews and are
hence useful for ensuring representativity of the sample compared to the population under
investigation. Interviews with programme managers, operators and beneficiaries can complement
management data where the latter and other secondary data are insufficient. Interviews can for
example, help identify successes and failures. Individual interviews are commonly used, but it is also
possible to organise different types of group interviews. It should be kept in mind that certain tools,
particularly interviews introduce subjective views; alternative points of views should be tested and
rationale behind opinions put forward should be checked.
Case studies produce very comprehensive qualitative information (through the collection of
management data, interviews,) on a limited number of actions. It can be used for analysing the
implementation of a programme or to provide an indepth analysis of the impacts. Cases cannot,
strictly speaking, comply with the
rules for sampling, but must be carefully selected, based for example on a representative typology of
actions.
4.3. Data analysis
Once data are collected, the evaluation must analyse them and estimate the effect of the
programme. Several tools can then be used in order to analyse data, form conclusions in order to
formulate a judgement. Their adequacy will depend on the type of programme evaluated, its degree of
complexity, or the type of information searched.
Data should be analysed to allow comparisons and conclusions so the evaluation
can judge whether the effects the programme has produced (or will produce in the case of an ex ante
evaluation) are sufficient in relation to the objectives. It must be made possible to examine the
counterfactual situation, i.e., assess what would have happened without the intervention (e.g., if the
investments on farms had not be made, or if a specific training had not been offered).

Unintended effects, including negative effects and the influence from significant exogenous
factors such as market prices should also be appreciated where relevant. Links to other programmes,
and / or between actions within a programme should be examined in order to estimate
complementarity and synergy effects. Several actions, or programmes, can produce the same impacts
or can be mutually reinforcing. As an example, the improvement of infrastructure for basic services
(e.g., transport or communication networks) in rural areas can alleviate remoteness and can, together
with the creation of tourist equipment, have synergy effects in terms of development of activities and
employment.

5. Reporting on the Evaluation


5.1 The recommended common structure for the reports
The report must describe the programme being evaluated, including its context and purpose,
together with the procedure and findings of the evaluation and the conclusions and recommendations
it leads to. The common structure for doing so would ensure that the individual evaluations embrace
the essential issues while making their results more comparable. Especially it would make it
attainable for the Commission to elaborate the required Community level synthesis. Unmotivated
deviations from the recommended structure should hence be avoided. The recommended common
structure is explained below.
The recommended structure embraces the following main elements:
a)
b)
c)
d)

e)
f)

Executive summary
Introduction (context of programme, characteristics of the implementation, purpose of the
evaluation)
Explanation of the methodological approach (design and analysis, data collection and sources,
soundness of data and findings)
Presentation and analysis of the information collected (financial information and outputs,
uptake information on beneficiaries, replies to the common questions, findings on the
programme specific questions)
Conclusions (concerning community level objectives, programme specific goals, effectiveness,
efficiency, utility, sustainability of the results, ..) and recommendations
Annexes

6. Summing up
Rural development evaluation must provide information on the implementation and impacts
of the programmes. Evaluation helps to assess key aspects of the assistance (i.e., the relevance,
effectiveness, efficiency, utility, sustainability of the assisted actions, depending on the stage of
programme implementation) in relation to the general objectives of the rural development policy at
Community level as well as in relation to the specific needs and priorities incorporated into each rural
development programming document. The arrangements for evaluating the rural development
programme should in part be provided by the programme itself and in part by the common evaluation
questions with criteria and indicators. Evaluations should focus on the results and impacts of the

programme. Evaluation must also go beyond monitoring, reporting and auditing which deal with
inputs, outputs and sometimes with results. It has also been argued that evaluations should respond to
common evaluation questions which must be accompanied by achievement related to criteria and
indicators. Criteria and indicators help to answer questions that have been defined in relation to the
objectives. Evaluations need to be performed in accordance with recognised evaluation practice. The
evaluation reports must explain the methodologies applied, including the implications for the quality
of the data and the findings. Towards the end, the report must describe the programme being
evaluated, including its context and purpose, together with the procedure and findings of the
evaluation and the conclusions and recommendations it leads to.

7. Keywords
Coherence
Assessment of whether a better complementarity or synergy could be found within a programme and
in relation to other programmes. The internal coherence refers to the correspondence between the
resources allocated to a programme and its objectives. The external coherence refers to the adequacy
between the evaluated programme and other related programmes, e.g. Community aids for early
retirement and related national state aids.
Counterfactual situation
Situation which would have occurred without the public assistance. Also referred to "policyoff" situation.
Criterion
Characteristic on which a judgment can be based. The criterion must be explicitly defined. A
measure would usually be judged on several criteria. Indicators are then defined for each criterion.
"Reduction of costs" is an example of a criterion to examine the efficiency of agricultural holdings.
Effectiveness
Assessment of the effects in relation to the objectives of the evaluated programme. An action
will be effective when the objectives have been attained. For example, the ratio between the number
of kilometers of water pipes that should have been constructed (quantified objective) and the
number of kilometers that have actually been constructed could serve to assess the effectiveness of
an agricultural measure concerning irrigation.

Efficiency
Assessment of the achieved effects in relation to the inputs (financial or administrative)
mobilised; i.e., how economically have the inputs been converted into outputs, results or impacts.
Could the same result have been achieved with less resources, or more results with the same
resources?

Exogenous factor
External factors partly or entirely responsible for the changes observed. The evaluation must
take into account such factors (e.g., market prices) in order to assess the net effect of the assisted
action.
Gross effect
Change observed consequently to the implementation of the measure. The observation of
gross effect is not sufficient to conclude properly on the effects imputable to the assisted action.
Deadweight, displacement and substitution effects, exogenous factors must also be assessed to
conclude on the net effects.

Impact
Effects of the programme in the medium or long term. There can be expected,
unexpected, positive or negative impacts, depending also on the influence of exogenous factors.
Direct and indirect beneficiaries can be affected by the impacts of a programme.
Indicator
For the purpose of the present guidelines: information in a form suitable for assessing or
indicating the effects of an assistance. They help in quantifying and simplifying information about
complex phenomena. They represent more than the raw data on which they are based. Measurement
produces raw data, which may be aggregated and summarised to provide statistics; statistics can be
analysed and re-expressed in the form of indicators, which fed into the evaluation or decision-making
process.
There are programme indicators and context indicators. As an example, a programme
indicator for the criterion Reduction of costs might be the Ratio between costs and turnover on
assisted holdings. A context indicator relating to the income in the geographical area covered by the
programme might be compared to a programme indicator such as Gross farm income on assisted
holdings.
For the purpose of these evaluation guidelines, the programme indicators are linked to criteria.
Input
Resources mobilised to implement the programme: financial means, material, legal and
organisational resources.

Leverage effect
Fact that the public funding induces private spending among the beneficiaries.
Net effect Effect completely imputable to the programme. Deadweight, substitution and displacement
effects have been subtracted from gross effect to estimate the net effect.
Output
What the programme finances. For example: buildings, storage equipment, tourist facilities,

Primary data
Data collected ad hoc directly in the field at the time of the running evaluation.

Relevance
Appropriateness of the objectives of a programme in relation to the sectoral needs and socioeconomic problems to which the programme should respond.
Result
The most immediate impact, directly identifiable once the action has been implemented. It
occurs as soon as the public intervention has been completed. For instance, when tourist
accommodation is created or upgraded, a result would be an increased accommodation capacity;
when transport infrastructure has been created or upgraded the travelling time within or from the area
would be reduced.
Secondary data
Existing information, e.g., statistics, monitoring data, data from previous evaluations,

Sustainability of results
Effects are sustainable when they last in the long term, and after the end of the
programme.
Utility
The fact that the impacts observed correspond to sectoral needs and to identified
socioeconomic problems. Unlike relevance, utility does not appreciate the intervention by referring to
the objectives of the assisted actions.

8. Know your Progress


1.

What are the types and purposes of programme evaluation?

2.

What are the important aspects which should become the focus of evaluation?

3.

What are the differences between programme and context indicators?

4.

What are the important elements that should be included in the structure of
the evaluation reports?

9. Further Reading / References


Baldock, D. (1999). Indicators for High Nature Value Farming Systems in Europe. In: F.M. Brouwer
and J.R. Crabtree (Eds.) Environmental Indicators and Agricultural Policy. CAB International,
Wallingford, pp. 121-135.
Brouwer F.M. (1995), Indicators to Monitor Agri-environmental Policy in the Netherlands,
Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI-DLO), The Hague: The Netherlands.
Brouwer F.M; and van Berkum S. (1996), CAP and Environment in the European Union: Analysis of
the effects of the CAP on the environment and assessment of existing environmental conditions in
policy, Wageningen Pers, Wageningen: The Netherlands.
Brouwer, Floor and Philip Lowe (Eds.) (1998). CAP and the rural environment in transition: A
panorama of national perspectives. Wageningen Pers, Wageningen.
Brouwer F.M. and J.R. Crabtree Eds. (1999). Environmental indicators and agricultural policy. CAB
International, CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK
Brouwer, F.M. (1999) Agri-environmental indicators in the European Union: Policy requirements and
data availability. In: F.M. Brouwer and J.R. Crabtree (Eds.) Environmental Indicators and
Agricultural Policy, CAB International, Wallingford , pp. 57-72.
Campbell I. (1998), Guide de l'analyse de l'environnement des politiques et des programmes
agricoles, Bureau de l'environnement, Direction gnrale des politiques, Agriculture et
Agroalimentaire Canada.
Delbaere, B. C. W. (1998), 'Facts and Figures on Europe's Biodiversity - State and Trends ', European
Centre for Nature Conservation, Tilburg.
European Commission, Agriculture, environment, rural development; Fact and Figures A Challenge
for Agriculture, 1999

Institut Francais de l'Environnement, Orleans (1997). Agriculture et environnement: les indicateurs


Jesinghaus, J. (1999). Agricultural sector pressure indicators in the European Union. In: F.M.
Brouwer and J.R. Crabtree (Eds.) Environmental Indicators and Agricultural Policy., CAB
International, Wallingford ,1999, pp. 45-55.
Jongman, R. H. J. (1996), 'Ecological and Landscape Consequences of Land Use Change in Europe',
European Centre for Nature Conservation, Tilburg.
Lowe, P., N. Ward and C. Potter (1999). Attitudinal and institutional indicators for sustainable
development. In: F.M. Brouwer and J.R. Crabtree (Eds.) Environmental Indicators and Agricultural
Policy. Wallingford, CAB International, 1999, pp. 263-278.

Moxey A., Whitby M., and Lowe P. (1998) Environmental indicators for a reformed CAP,
Monitoring and evaluation policies in agriculture, Centre for rural economy, University of Newcastle
Upon Tyne
OECD (1994), Creating rural indicators for shaping territorial policy, OECD: Paris.
OECD (1997), Environmental Indicators for Agriculture, OECD: Paris.
Parris, K. (1999). Environmental indicators for agriculture: Overview in OECD countries. In:
F.M.Brouwer and J.R. Crabtree (Eds.) Environmental Indicators and Agricultural Policy. CAB
International, Wallingford,1999, pp. 25-44.
Rametsteiner, E. (1999).Criteria and indicators: Experience in the forestry sector. In: F.M.
Brouwerand J.R. Crabtree (Eds.) Environmental Indicators and Agricultural Policy.
CAB International, Wallingford, 1999, pp. 247-262.
Tucker, G. (1999). Measuring the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity. In: F.M. Brouwer and
J.R.Crabtree (Eds.) Environmental Indicators and Agricultural Policy. CAB
International, Wallingford, pp. 89-103.
Wascher D.M., Piorr H.-P. and Kreisel-Fonck (1998), Agri-environmental Indicators for Landscapes,
European Centre for Nature Conservation, Tilburg: The Netherlands.
Wascher, D.M., M. Mgica and H. Gulinck (1999). Establishing targets to assess agricultural impacts
on European landscapes. In: F.M. Brouwer and J.R. Crabtree (Eds.)
Environmental Indicators and Agricultural Policy. Wallingford, CAB International, pp. 73-87.

10. Model Answers


1.
The programme evaluation is carried out at the ex ante, mid term and ex post stage of the
programming cycle. The major purposes of these evaluations are:

The ex ante evaluation helps to prepare the rural development plan and facilitates its
implementation.
The mid-term evaluation helps to reorient the programme if necessary and improve the
implementation.
The ex post evaluation recapitulates and judges an intervention when it is over.

2.
Evaluation should focus on aspects such as the utility, relevance, coherence, effectiveness,
efficiency and sustainability of the results. The pertinence and relative importance of these aspects
would vary according to the stage of implementation of the programme.

3.
Indicators may, depending on the implementing stage of the programme, relate to an output, a
result or an impact. Programme indicators attempt to measure the direct or indirect effects of the
programme. By contrast, context indicators apply to an entire territory, population or category, for
example a particular agricultural sector within the relevant region or country. By measuring
appropriate economic, social or environmental variables, such indicators can put the programme into
perspective. A context indicator may, for example, show that a certain programme, albeit successful
in relation to its own given objectives, is no longer justified or, on the contrary, that a certain type of
aid is still relevant even if the relevant programme indicator demonstrates limited progress. Some
context indicators may justify regular monitoring while others should be collected ad hoc for the
evaluation.
4. The recommended structure for the evaluation repots should have the following main
elements:
a)
b)
c)
d)

e)

f)

Executive summary
Introduction (context of programme, characteristics of the implementation,
purpose of the evaluation)
Explanation of the methodological approach (design and analysis, data collection
and sources, soundness of data and findings)
Presentation and analysis of the information collected (financial information and
outputs, uptake information on beneficiaries, replies to the common questions,
findings on the programme specific questions
Conclusions (concerning community level objectives, programme specific goals,
effectiveness, efficiency, utility, sustainability of the results, ..) and
recommendations
Annexes