Developing a well-specified Terms of Reference (ToR) is a vital step in managing a high-quality evaluation. ToRs provide an important overview of what is expected in an evaluation. In an external evaluation the ToR document provides the basis for a contractual arrangement between the commissioners of an evaluation and a consultant/evaluation team and establishes the parameters against which the success of an evaluation assignment can be assessed.
The specific content and format for a ToR will vary to some extent according to organizational requirements, local practices, and the type of assignment.
Common elements of a ToR include:
1. Why and for whom the evaluation is being done
- Background knowledge about the evaluand including objective, strategy and progress to date
- Purpose(s) of the evaluation
- Primary intended users and uses
- Key evaluation questions.
2. How it will be accomplished
- Overall scope and approach
- Evaluation methodology/evaluation plan (sometimes done as part of the ToR and sometimes done as part of the evaluation proposal or as the first deliverable in the evaluation project)
3. Who will undertake the evaluation and accountabilites
- Professional qualifications, experience and expertise required for the evaluator or evaluation team.
- Roles and responsibilities of the parties, including processes for signing off on the evaluation plan and reports
4. Milestones, deliverables and timelines
- What deliverables are required and when - for example, detailed evaluation plan, inception report, progress report, interim report, draft final report, final report
5. What resources are available to conduct the evaluation
- Budget (if organization's policy allows this to be stated)
- Existing data
Developed in tandem with the IDRC Program Managers' Guide, this tool will guide you through writing the different sections of a ToR / RFP. It will generate a word document with your saved information which can then be further refined and/or reviewed by others.
- Writing a Terms of Reference for an Evaluation: A How to Guide - This guide was developed by the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank, it provides a detailed description on how to prepare an evaluation ToR and includes a checklist at the end to help the users.
- How to Perform an Evaluation: A Model ToR - This easy to use guide provides step by step guidance on preparing Evaluation ToR.
- NZAID Guideline on Developing Terms of Reference for Reviews and Evaluation - Suggestions on how to develop clear Terms of Reference (TOR) for reviews and evaluations and include examples of best practice in TOR, and a template to use in developing TOR
- UNEG Quality Checklist - This quality checklist for evaluation Terms of Reference and Inception reports serves as a guideline for UNEG members in the design and conduct of evaluations
- Evaluation Study Terms of Reference Template - provides an overview of the minimum content required within Terms of Reference for development of an Evaluation Study
Examples of ToRs
- Evaluation of the Peace Education Project in Aceh - ToR of a project implemented in Aceh designed to encourage non-violence and peaceful conflict resolution among youths
- Policy Dialogue Evaluation - Terms of Reference - ToR for an AusAID thematic evaluation
- USAID/Zambia - Gender-Based Violence - Programming Evaluation - ToR for an evaluation of programming
- Terms of Reference for an Implementation Evaluation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme - ToR for a program evaluation
- Terms of Reference for Mid-Term Review of USAID CARE MYAP/SHOUHARDO Program - ToR for the evaluation of a program in Bangladesh designed to address the issues contributing to vulnerabilities such as a lack of participation, social injustice, and discrimination that hold people back from leading healthy and productive lives
- Terms of Reference for Towards a Greater Citizenry Participation in Swaziland - ToR for a project implemented in Swaziland designed to promote a greater understanding of human rights and knowledge of the Bill of Rights