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The Logic Model

In this article Sophia Rost shows how intended goals of a research project can be achieved with a logic model.
People are planing in front of a flipchart
© Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

The dissemination of scientific results is based on a precise understanding of the effects and changes that scientific results and interventions are intended to achieve.

What is the change (short, medium, and long term) that the transfer of research is intended to achieve? What needs to be done to achieve it, which stakeholders should be involved and how, and what resources should be used? What are the underlying assumptions of the model and what are the prerequisites of the social environment? The systematic connection of these elements takes place in the formulation of a theory of change.

With the help of a logic model it can be systematically shown how and by which means the intended goals of a research project are achieved (Kellogg Foundation, 1998). This can be important not only in the planning phase, in order to systematize and plausibilize the change approach vis-à-vis the funder. Also in the implementation phase of the project to convince the representation team members and stakeholders of the project management.

Both a Theory of Change and a Logic Model work to identify inputs, activities, enablers, intermediate outcomes and impacts. Although there is some overlap between a Theory of Change and the Logic Model, there are some differences between the two. A Theory of Change identifies the assumptions and regognizes the context of the project. It explains why the project goals will be achieved.

What is a logic model?

“Basically, a logic model is a systematic and visual way to present and share your understanding of the relationships among the resources you have to operate your program, the activities you plan, and the changes or results you hope to achieve.” (Logic Model Development Guide, 2004).

The Basic Logic Model

INPUTS: like funding, personnel, materials, technology, but also partnerships, time research, regulations, leadership and expertise

ACTIVITIES: like processes, tools, events, technology, and actions that use the resources to reach the intended change

OUTPUTS: are the direct results of the activities

OUTCOMES: changes that are a result of your project at an individual level, like participants’ behaviour, knowledge, skills

IMPACT: fundamental intended or unintended change in organizations, communities or systems as a result of the project within 10 years.

The Outcomes and Impacts should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Timed

The individual steps build on each other in the logic model. However, there is no prescribed direction for the development of the model. If it is important for the project to implement a vision/mission developed with the stakeholders, then they could also start from the end and first formulate the intended impact (5) and then move step by step towards activity (2) and resource (1) planning. If, on the other hand, the resources are set, you should plan activities, outputs and outcomes from here and, based on this, formulate the social impact that is to be achieved.

The Logic Model of this course starts with the vision or long-term impact:

Course Logic Model You find this pdf in the section below for download.

You can read this model as following:

If an intended long-term goal of the course is that the participation in the course encourages the learners to initiate open processes in their institutions and to sensitise them to a culture of openness, then knowledge, skills and procedures need to be established at research institutes of the course participants.

If knowledge, skills and procedures need to be established in the learners organisations, then the course needs to be completed by the learners and learning material needs to be accessible, usable and adaptable.

If the learners need to complete the course, then they need to be engaged in the course through a variety of learning activities and exchange between peer learners. The course material is digitally available as Open Educational Resource.

If a variety of learning activities, the exchange between peer learners and OER need to be offered in the course, then human and financial resources are obligatory. Organisational process, IT and AV equipment and staff have to support the production process.

Other Examples of Logic Models:

This is a very helpful annotated template you can use to fill in your own Logic Model. You find it in the download section below.

Annotated Logic Model Template

This and more templates you can find on TemplateLab.

nesta Theory of Change

people working together


To do your own Logic Model:

  1. Choose a template to create your own Logic Model of a planned or imagined research project.
  2. Decide where you will start: with the LONG-TERM INPUTS or with the INPUTS.
  3. Consider the elements of your Logic Model and fill them in.
© This work by Sophia Rost is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
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Openness in Science and Innovation

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