Data Collection Planning Matrix

Updated April 2, 2020.

An evaluation plan should include a clear description of what data will be collected, from what sources and how, by whom, and when, as well as how the data will be analyzed. Placing this information in a matrix helps ensure that there is a viable plan for collecting all the data necessary to answer each evaluation question and that all collected data will serve a specific, intended purpose. Access the word version below to copy the table below into another document, such as a grant proposal, and edited/ expanded as needed. An example is provided below.

If space is limited, such as in a National Science Foundation proposal, fewer columns may be used. It is most critical to include the evaluation questions, indicators, data sources and methods, and timing.


Evaluation Questions are overarching questions about a project’s quality or impact. The number of evaluation questions depends on the scope and purpose of the evaluation; 3 to 7 questions is typical. Questions should address both project implementation and outcomes.

Indicators are specific pieces of information about an aspect of a project—basically, what will be measured in order to answer the evaluation questions. It is useful to use multiple indicators to address an evaluation question, including qualitative and quantitative data.

Data Sources are the entities from which data will be collected. Typical data sources for ATE evaluations include project personnel, students, graduates, faculty, project partners, business and industry representatives, institutional records, website usage statistics, and teaching and learning artifacts.

Data Collection Methods are the means by which information will be gathered. Typical methods include surveys, focus groups, interviews, observations, and institutional database queries.

Responsible Parties are the individuals or organizations tasked with collecting the needed information. In many cases, data collection requires cooperation among multiple entities. For example, an external evaluator may be responsible for an administering a survey, but a member of the project staff may need to supply the contact information.

Timing identifies when and how frequently data will be collected (e.g., at events, quarterly, annually). It is important to identify approximately when data collection will take place to ensure the information will be obtained when needed for reporting purposes and decision making and that the data collection schedule is conducive to other things taking place in project’s context (e.g., other major data collection activities, semester schedules).

Analysis Plan how the quantitative and qualitative data will be summarized into meaningful, usable information.

Interpretation is how the analyzed data will be used to reach conclusions related to the evaluation questions.



Data Collection Planning Matrix Handout (PDF)

Data Collection Planning Matrix Handout (Word)

Data Collection Planning Matrix Template (Fillable PDF)