Research Planning and Design

Organizational Ownership, Resources, Capacities and Quality of Work

The investment in training, size and scope of analysis, and ethical considerations of risk to participants, must also be accompanied by some very practical considerations linked to country office commitment, budget, time, and implications on the research for staff, projects and partners.

12 Steps to Research Design

  • Objective: To help teams think systematically about such issues and research design.
  • Materials/Preparation: Teams should have a sense of budget, time and people available for the research as well as a good sense of what their research question is.
  • Participants: Research team and CO staff and partners.



Emergency Assessment Planning and Preparation

For planning assessments in case of emergencies, the CARE Emergency Toolkit also includes a helpful assessment planning checklist to consider, which include:


  • A clear plan for the assessment
  • Clear – and agreed upon – objectives for the assessment
  • Priority information identified
  • Required information to meet objectives
  • Information to understand cross-cutting issues, including gender

Team Support

  • An assessment team leader
  • A mix of technical and functional skills among the assessment team
  • People of diverse genders with local language/cultural skills
  • Collaboration with other organizations


  • Administrative planning for team to work safely and effectively
  • Reliable communications options
  • Safety and security analysis for safe assessments


  • Participation of disaster-affected men and women
  • Inform community members of planned visit
  • Identification of who to talk with
  • Identification of available information sources
  • Methods for gathering information determined
  • Skills and tools available to use methods
  • Guidelines and tools for gaining and analyzing information identified
  • Frameworks and additional understanding about context and other factors for teams to conduct analysis of information gathered


  • Expected type of recommendations and their purpose
  • Timeline to deliver preliminary report
  • Format for reporting
  • Public version in addition to internal version?
  • Development of proposals, plans and communications
  • Consideration of other outputs to prepare from analysis


  • AK Coulibaly and A Bey (2009). Lessons Learned about Organizing an SII. CAREs Mali and Tanzania.
  • CARE International (2008). Emergency Pocketbook. CARE International Emergency Toolkit 
  • K Glenzer (2005). 12 Steps to Research Design.
  • M Picard (2002). Checklist for Quality of Monitoring Information.
  • T Barton (1998). Program Impact Evaluation Process: M&E Tool Box. CARE International – Uganda.
  • T Barton (1997). Guidelines to Monitoring and Evaluation: How are we doing?

Budget Planning Tool

To help budget planning for an evaluation or analysis, CARE Uganda developed this useful Evaluation Budget Guide, which offers a template for estimating the resources (staff, budget, time) to undertake an analysis.


  • Probability samples, also known as random samples, allow every analytical unit to have an equal chance of being selected.  They allow you to generalize to a larger population.  They also are best for avoiding researcher bias.
  • Non-probability samples, also known as purposive samples, cannot, on their own, allow you to generalize to a wider group.  They are more subject to researcher bias although this can be minimized through establishing strict, objective criteria for choosing data sources.

You can mix probability and non-probability sampling strategies across methods.  What remains very important, with non-probability sampling (almost always used, for example, for identifying informants for in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, etc.) is that you are clear and transparent about your selection criteria and that you follow those criteria to the letter.  Being clear about your sampling strategy for qualitative methods is one very important form of impact research rigor frequently missing from impact assessments.

For more information on sampling, please see the page focused on Design Considerations: Where, When, with Whom?