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What is a Baseline Study and how can I design it?

A Baseline study measures specific conditions after a project has been designed, based on the indicators stated in the log frame. It is an analysis of the current situation to identify the starting points for a programme or project. It looks at what information must be considered and analyzed to establish a baseline or starting point, against which future progress can be assessed or comparisons made.

How to design a Baseline study?

Formulating the study purpose

The purpose of most baseline studies is to determine in a quantitative manner the current situation in the community and assess the people’s perceptions, levels of awareness, knowledge, attitudes and practices related to the development issues under qualitative investigation. The purpose of the study assists in the formulation of the study topic or title.

Formulating the problem statement

A clear problem statement helps in the further development of the research proposal and the selection of objectives and the methodology for the study.

Research justification/rationale

Ensure that the proposed study is not a duplication of other research studies already carried out on the issue and point out the innovative uses of the anticipated results. A good problem statement should assist in the formulation of a convincing justification for a baseline study.

Literature review

Careful literature review reduces the chances of the proposed study duplicating work that has already been done on the issue under investigation. It helps to discover what others have learned and reported about the issues that the new study proposes to investigate. It familiarises the researchers with other types of methodologies that have been used to study the issues and may provide convincing justification for why the proposed study is needed.

Setting study objectives

Properly formulated study objectives help to focus the baseline study and reduce the chances of collecting information that is not strictly necessary for understanding and solving the problem under investigation. Objectives also help in the organisation of the study in clearly defined parts or phases. Specific objectives facilitate the development of the research methodology and give a framework for the collection, analysis, interpretation and utilisation of study results.

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