Documentation: the basics
Grouped under four main categories, these are the main ideas, issues or aspects to consider – according to those directly involved in each case.
The first thing to think of when starting a documentation process is the subject to write about. What are we interested in documenting? Is this a project? A long term programme? A farmer's experience? A multi-stakeholder process? Although we are generally looking at projects, or at a particular "experience", we can equally consider the development or implementation of a specific technique (such as a trap against fruit flies); a specific policy; an approach, such as the "sector-wide approach" to development; or a particular method, such as PRA (participatory rural appraisal).
How to carry out a documentation process? Is it different to "systematize" than to "capitalise"? Considering that there are many different ways of going about a documentation process, the purpose of the following pages is look at the different steps which all methods and approaches share, presenting specific lessons for each step. These are complemented by the general lessons in this page, related to the different considerations that need to be taken into account. In addition, we provide a short overview of the many methods available, and of the work of many organisations in the field.
What's the purpose of a documentation process? Even if we all talk about a "learning process", those involved in documentation, capitalisation or in systematization activities mention different reasons for carrying them out. Whatever the reason, it is important that it is clear before a process starts.
Who is to participate in a documentation process? Who needs to be involved? Is there a need for someone to co-ordinate the process, or to facilitate it? These are important questions, especially if we consider that, by definition, documentation is a participatory process.