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Data collection methodologies

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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In addition to the Tools for data collection described above, a range of methodologies based on participatory assessment can be used.

Outcome mapping

Outcome mapping brings together process and performance monitoring. It can be used to observe (1) the changes in the behaviours, actions, activities, and relationships of the people, groups, and organizations with whom a program works directly; (2) the strategies that a program employs to encourage change in its partners; and (3) the functioning of a program as an organizational unit.

Outcomes are defined as changes in the behaviour, relationships, activities, or actions of the people, groups, and organizations with whom an intervention works directly. These outcomes can be logically linked to the intervention, even if they are not necessarily directly caused by it. A key concept in outcome mapping is “boundary partners” – i.e., individuals, groups, and organizations with whom an intervention interacts in view of influencing them: the target audiences.

Most activities will involve multiple outcomes because they have multiple boundary partners, and most outcomes are likely to be caused by multiple factors, not only as a result of the intervention. Outcome mapping recognizes this and helps to identify the contribution an intervention can make within a wider framework. (Earl, S., Carden, F., Smutylo, T., Outcome Mapping - Building Learning and Reflection into Development Programs, IDRC, 2001).


This is the rationale for the importance of monitoring and evaluating campaigning outcomes

  • The essence of social change is a process in which diverse social actors do things differently than they had been doing them before. Gender violence will end when individuals and families, groups, organizations and institutions change their behaviour, relationships, actions, policies or practices.
  • Thus, outcomes are changes in social actors and they emerge from the interplay of diverse actors and factors, rarely from one alone.
  • A campaign influences outcomes in the broad sense of the term: from inspiring and supporting and facilitating, to persuading and pressuring and even forcing change. Nonetheless, attributing this change is impossible; contributing to it is the aim.

Outcomes bridge the gap between a campaign’s activities, services and products, and the impact it desires. A campaign’s desired goal will be achieved only when social actors do things differently.  That is, when they achieve the results that the campaign can only influence but does not control.

Source: Ricardo Wilson-Grau, personal communication.


Comprehensive information on outcome mapping can be found on the web-site of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), e.g. the guide by Earl, S., Carden, F., Smutylo, T, Outcome Mapping - Building Learning and Reflection into Development Programs available in English, Arabic, Portuguese, French, Spanish and Thai. The Outcome Mapping Learning Community offers extensive resources on its website.


Example: Change Maker’s Journey – visualized by the Bangladesh We Can Alliance

The We Can campaign in Bangladesh, which has a strong emphasis on of social mobilization for change, has held focus group discussions and individual interviews with dozens of “change makers”, i.e. people who have pledged to end VAW in their own lives. An approach inspired by Outcome Mapping has yielded a qualitative assessment of individual change the campaign has contributed to. Based on these interviews, the campaign produced a diagram visualizing the individual “change maker’s” journey (see below, from Oxfam GB Bangladesh Office, quoted in Raab, M., 2009. The We Can End All Violence..., Oxfam Novib). Such diagrams can be also an excellent way to test and refine a campaign theory of change.

Source: Aldred, A., & Williams, S., 2009. We Can: The Story So Far.


Most significant change technique (MST)

MST is a tool for participatory monitoring and evaluation. Essentially, the process involves the collection of significant change stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection and reflection of the most significant of these stories by stakeholder panels (Davies/Dart, 2005).


For example, the Bell Bajao campaign has used MST as a monitoring tool, collecting individual stories of significant change at community level that were triggered by the campaign.

See the Bell Bajao case study. 

Access the Bell Bajao Campaign.