Terms of Reference


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
  • Timelines

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.

To access the GeneraTOR, login to your BetterEvaluation account and hit the "GeneraTOR" tab on your profile page. (Click to join BetterEvaluation)



Examples of ToRs


Department for International Development, Evaluation Department - Evaluation Study Terms of Reference Template

UNEG Quality Checklist for Evaluation Terms of Reference and Inception Reports


Updated: 4th October 2016 - 2:24pm


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