Borrowed from the field of program evaluation, the logic model evolved as a tool to study and improve programs by visually depicting the relationships between program components. The basic logic model shared by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation links five components:
Resources/Inputs > Activities > Outputs > Outcomes > Impacts
Some sample logic models are located here: source1, source2, and source3. The strength of a logic model is that it can enable one to articulate desired or expected outcomes by developing the step-by-step means to achieve those goals. Hence, developing a model can help one visualize the research process and communicate it to others, a clear benefit for anyone writing a research funding proposal. Here are several ways to use a logic model in your next proposal:
- Plan a project strategy: Creating a logic model can help you to consider different project strategy iterations and develop a common language among stakeholders. The logic model can be developed backwards as well: define a goal and then walk back to decide how to pursue it--and what resources need to be in place to do so. These steps can lead to improved design, planning and management.
- Plan for proposal writing: Visually mapping the rationale, hypothesis, aims, and expected results of a research project can facilitate constructing the grant proposal narrative, ensuring clarity of thinking and successfully arguing for a project's benefits.
- Communicate your project structure to engage reviewers: The logic model presents a project to agency reviewers in an easily digestible format, providing the means to grasp quickly the descriptions of the investigator's resources, and the project's aims and objectives. The model is especially useful to convey the big picture, as well as the component parts.
- Prepare for Evaluation and Reporting: For proposals that focus specifically on evaluation, logic models are an important part of the process and the proposal. A logic model can be used to define variables to be measured, evaluate project outcomes, and prepare for post-award reporting.
When creating a logic model for a proposal, check to see if the funding agency has a preferred format, especially if your project requires an evaluation plan. If your funder does not provide guidance on a model, information on the various types of logic models and strategies for creating them can be found via the links below.
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation Logic Model Development Guide
- Association of Fundraising Professionals Primer on Logic Models
- InformalScience.org: A Start to Developing a Logic Model
- U.S. DoE Institute of Education Sciences Logic Model Overview
- Centers for Disease Control: Logic Models for Planning and Evaluation
- National Science Foundation Handbook for Project Evaluation (pp. 16-19)