Written document presenting the purpose and scope of the evaluation, the methods to be used, the standard against which performance is to be assessed or analyses are to be conducted, the resources and time allocated, and reporting requirements. Two other expressions sometimes used with the same meaning are ‘scope of work' and ‘evaluation mandate'.
The terms of reference outline the work to be carried out by the evaluator, the questions to be dealt with and the time schedule. They allow the sponsors of the evaluation to define their requirements and allow the evaluator to understand clearly what is expected of the work to be undertaken (including, often, the structure of the expected evaluation report). Clearly defined terms of reference are vitally important where an evaluation is to be conducted by an external expert, and can also be of tremendous use when it is to be performed in-house. See also evaluation project, evaluation report, evaluation sponsors, external evaluation, internal evaluation, organisational structure, work plan.
Terms of Reference define the tasks required of a contractor/consultant and indicate project/ programme background and objectives, planned àctivities, expected inputs and outputs, budget, timetables and job descriptions.