Narratives can be either self-reported or extracted from the Reflexive Monitoring notes. The primary function of narratives is to track changes in project impacts for Monitoring and Evaluation purposes. Narratives are an established data collection mechanism in evaluation (Patton 2015).

Narratives should be captured cumulatively over the life of the project to capture instances of impact in a short summary describing the impact that has occurred as a result of the project. They normally follow a set structure.
The narrative describes the link between the activities in a project and the desired outcomes. These provide an illustration of the impact that has been achieved, or has the potential to be achieved. To maximise value from these narratives they should follow the same format and be systematically collected.

Headings which are useful to use when writing down narratives include:

  • Date
  • Contributed by
  • The issues captured in the narrative
  • The situation of the participant
  • The specific activities/process which triggered a change
  • The change that occurred
  • The observed/expected impact of that change
  • Other comments/observations.