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Data analysis plays a very important role in an effective monitoring system. Even the most straightforward data may require some processing and analysis to ensure they are accurate and make sense, but many data require substantial analysis to reach a state where they are usable and ready to be incorporated into a learning activity or report.

The kind of analysis necessary depends on the kinds of data that were collected and how those data are intended to be used. Qualitative data will often undergo content or pattern analyses to see trends. Quantitative data may undergo fairly simple analyses to generate sums or averages, or they may require more complex approaches such as regression analyses. Data may require multiple analyses, such as if data must be disaggregated and therefore analyzed both as aggregates and disaggregates.

It is encouraged for Project and Activity MEL Plans to include data analysis plans. These plans can clarify expectations on how certain data types will be analyzed, including any specific software that may be necessary. This is also an opportunity to ensure a consistent data analysis approach across a project or among multiple partners.