Module M14 - Documentation

Unit M14U01 - Introduction to Documentation


Documentation is a generic term that refers to the process and tools for collecting and recording information. A variety of documentation methods exist which employ visual and auditory components and which convey the relevance and meaning of the material that is collected. These include text, video, audio or a combination of media.

This Unit reviews approaches to gathering and documenting information, including observing, note taking and conducting interviews. It addresses the questions of why documentation is necessary, how and when it should be conducted, which techniques should be used and for whom and by whom data should be recorded. It identifies requirements specific to documenting the processes of creating a participatory map and collecting local knowledge. Ethical requirements related to documentation are discussed, including obtaining prior consent and release forms from community members (this will be linked to Module 02 - Attitudes, Behaviours and Ethics).

Unit objectives / expected outcomes

After the completion of the Unit the trainee will be able to:

  • explain the importance of documentation;
  • consider the role of community members;
  • give an overview of documentation methods;
  • summarise strengths and weaknesses of documentation methods;
  • choose appropriate documentation methods;
  • respect ethical requirements of documentation;
  • design release forms.

Content outline, main topics covered and suggested sequencing

This Unit focuses on the topics listed below:

  1. Introduction to documentation (PPT No. 1: Introduction to Documentation) (1 hr)
  2. Documentation techniques (PPT No.1: Introduction to Documentation) (1 hr)
  3. Choosing appropriate tools for documenting processes and practices (Exercise No. 1: Documentation Decision Framework) (1 hr)
  4. Prior consent and release forms (PPT No. 1: Introduction to Documentation) (30 min)

Components of the Unit


Handouts for Trainee (to be distributed in printed format):



½ day

Equipment needed

Computer and beamer for PPT presentation, notepad, pen and/or pencil, copies of Handout4T, Handout A and Handout B

Additional downloads