The purpose of a baseline study is to provide an information base against which to monitor and assess an activity’s progress and effectiveness during implementation and after the activity is completed. Sometimes the data needed for a baseline, against which to measure the degree and quality of change during an activity’s implementation, will already exist. In such cases the only task is to collate the data and ensure that it can be updated in the longer term. So it is important to find out what information is already available. But more commonly, there will not be any existing data, or it will be incomplete or of poor quality, or it will need to be supplemented or broken out into categories that are relevant for the project being implemented.
When planning a baseline study, the implementing organization needs to determine both what change needs to be assessed and what sort of comparison(s) will need to be made as part of that assessment of change.