Logs, Journals and Diaries are monitoring tools for recording data over a long period of time. Because they rely on timely and accurate documentation of an on-going process, they must be completed close to the event and are not suitable as evaluation tools post-implementation, although a journal format can be used to reconstruct events after the fact.
Logs are a self-assessment tool and can be completed by end users, staff, program partners and any group involved in a programme. Often, a conversation is the most important process in reflecting together on progress made, the writing of logs is then just for documentation. The value added of any log ‘will depend on their integration into the program’s ongoing management and reporting processes and on the commitment of program members to collect data regularly and reflect on work honestly’ (Earl, Carden and Smutylo 2001, 76).
M&E context: In Outcome Mapping (OM), journals document three important aspects of progress: Outcomes in Boundary Partners, Strategies a program employs to encourage change and its Performance as an organisational unit. OM offers a template for each type of journal. Outside of Outcome Mapping, logs and diaries can be used to document a range of data, usually making transparent a process or outcome or a personal perspectives on how change occurred.
The design of the journal is very important and each programme would have to make careful considerations about what format and fields are most appropriate to collect the information that is needed.
Because monitoring requires commitment of human and financial resources, it is important to plan and prioritise monitoring needs and map resources against them, selecting only those tools that are within the limits of what can realistically be committed. The Outcome Mapping (OM) Monitoring Plan (Earl, Carden and Smutylo 2001, 85) is helpful in thinking through those monitoring priorities.
Figure 1: OM Monitoring Plan (Earl, Carden and Smutylo 2001, p 86)
Example: Outcome Mapping ‘The Outcome Journal’ Outcome Mapping journals focus on ‘how a program facilitates change rather than on how it causes change, and looks to assess contribution rather than attribution’ (Earl, Carden and Smutylo 2001, p78). ‘Although data is gathered on the program’s actions and on changes in its boundary partners, there is no attempt to imply a causal relationship between the two. It is assumed that the program is only one of the many influences on boundary partners’ (Earl, Carden and Smutylo 2001, p76).
Figure 2: : Sample Outcome Journal (Earl, Carden and Smutylo 2001, p 87)
Earl, S.; Carden F. and Smutylo, T. (2001) ‘Outcome Mapping, Building learning and reflection into development programs’, Ottawa: International Development Research Centre
Institutional Learning and Change Initiative (ILAC) ‘Diaries, journal and logs’, https://web.archive.org/web/20150206184617/http://www.cgiar-ilac.org/content/diaries-journal-and-logs (accessed 16 December 2010, archvied link)