An evaluation plan is “a written document describing the overall approach or design that will be used to guide an evaluation. It includes what will be done, how it will be done, who will do it, when it will be done, and why the evaluation is being conducted.”1 Two versions of the evaluation plan are needed: A brief, mostly conceptual overview for use in the proposal and an expanded plan that guides the evaluation once you are funded.

Both versions should describe the evaluation’s scope and focus, data collection plan, and deliverables. The main purpose of the proposal plan is to show reviewers that you have a clear plan, that the plan is appropriate for the project, and you have the capacity to conduct the evaluation. The expanded plan, which should be the first deliverable you receive from your evaluator after your project starts, serves as a guide for implementing and managing the evaluation. As such, it should include concrete details about methods, analyses, deliverables, and time lines. It should reflect changes to the project negotiated with NSF during the award process and be updated as necessary throughout the project’s lifespan.

The Evaluation Design Checklist ( and Evaluation Contracts Checklist ( identifies numerous issues both PIs and evaluators should think through when developing evaluation plans and contracts.

1EPA Program Evaluation Glossary (

For more evaluation terminology, get the Evaluation Glossary App from the App Store or Google Play.

About the Author

Lyssa Becho

Lyssa Becho box with arrow

Creative Commons

Except where noted, all content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Nation Science Foundation Logo EvaluATE is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number 1841783. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.