MERL Center working definition of monitoring, evaluation, research & learning (MERL)
- Monitoring refers to the routine collection and analysis of information on an ongoing basis. This helps understand progress toward objective targets and support regular (or iterative) course-correction throughout the life of the project.
- Evaluation assesses a planned, ongoing or completed activity to assess whether the wider, overall objectives have been achieved, for whom, why (or why not), and how.
- Research serves to increase the common body of evidence within and beyond an implementing project. It helps to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, identify potential solutions for new or existing problems, support hypotheses, or develop new theories.
- Learning is the incorporation of monitoring, evaluation and research knowledge into how we do things, and it also describes what happens when we change and adapt how we do things going forward, based on past experiences.