C4D: Develop planning documents (evaluation plans and M&E frameworks)

What is it?

To undertake this task you need to bring together all the decisions made (manage, define, frame) and develop the documents that reflect these decisions.

This task covers two types of planning documents:

  • Evaluation (or Research/ Study) Plans (for a single, discrete activity)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks (a framework for monitoring, evaluating and learning through a range monitoring and evaluating activities)

An Evaluation/Research/Study Plan specifies: what will be evaluated; the purpose and criteria for the evaluation; the key evaluation questions; and how data will be collected, analysed, synthesised and reported.

A Monitoring and Evaluation Framework outlines the overall R,M&E plan for monitoring and evaluating across an entire program, or across different programs. It should specify the monitoring strategies, any studies, reviews or evaluations to do, with details about data sources, timing, management processes, as well as an overall program theory/logic model.

General Information

Evaluation/Research Study Plan

The Manager's Guide to Evaluation provides a comprehensive guide for creating an Evaluation (or study/research) Plan, covering management, scoping, and commissioning processes. The specific steps that support the development of the evaluation planning documents are:

M&E Framework

BetterEvaluation provides some information on developing an M&E Framework (it is also possible to follow the Steps listed above as a guide to developing M&E Frameworks, though some steps will be skipped). Another resource is a practical book by Markiewicz and Patrick Developing Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks; the companion website includes a downloadable template that can be used as the basis of an M&E Framework (see also an abbreviated guide on the authors' website). This resource suggests the use of OEAC/DAC Evaluation Criteria as the basis of key questions, and this influences the construction of the template.

The pages above are recommended background reading before considering methods to apply to C4D.

In the section below specific to C4D we provide adapted versions of these templates with additional guidance with reference to C4D specific examples.

Applying the C4D Principles


Partners, community groups and others with roles in planning and implementing C4D should be involved in the development of the M&E Framework or the Evaluation/Research Plan. This ensures that these documents respond to local needs, questions and contexts.


C4D is generally integrated into a program. Because of this, M&E Frameworks for C4D should ideally be developed as part of the broader program’s M&E Frameworks. Where there is a need for changing C4D action based on new insights, rapid, flexible cycles of evaluation will be most appropriate. Evaluation contracts will need to take this into account.


It is important to reflect on power imbalances in the development of these strategic documents. Who has control over the creation and any adaptations to documents? How accessible are documents? Some types of strategic documents, such as Logical Frameworks, reflect Western styles of thinking and planning.


Learning events, structures and processes (inclusive of all partners and community groups involved in implementation) should be built into M&E Frameworks and Evaluation/Research Plans. M&E Frameworks should be flexible enough to accommodate emergent issues. Some organisations are starting to refer to 'Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation Frameworks' to emphasise the importance of considering how frameworks can support learning in addition to producing information.

Recommended methods and adaptation

M&E Framework

Evaluation plan

  • The BetterEvaluation website includes several methods that can be adapted to suit C4D, including:


In this section

  • A questions-led M&E Framework starts with thinking about the information needs (questions) of the primary intended users, and builds a plan for answering those questions.
  • A Monitoring and Evaluation Framework outlines the overall RM&E plan for monitoring and evaluating across an entire program, or across different programs

'C4D: Develop planning documents (evaluation plans and M&E frameworks)' is referenced in: