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If you are going to plan a good, comprehensive dissemination strategy, then you need to capture all of these results as your project progresses so that you have a whole range of outcomes to share with others. From the very beginning of project planning, think about what you need to put in place to capture these results. You can refine these as you go along. For example, it’s easy to see how you will have some output in a project – for example a study or report. But how will you capture the potential or the lessons from your project? You might think you can do that at the end of the project but in reality it is much better to do this as you go along – for example through monthly phone-arounds with your partners based on a series of simple questions you have agreed to ask: these can range from ‘did you get the information you needed by the set deadline? If not, why not? What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them in the end?”
As you plan your dissemination strategy, you will need to ask yourselves a number of questions. Again, you do not have to have all the answers straight away – keep reviewing your answers and refining them:
What will this project produce that will be useful to others?
Who needs the various different results we have or can benefit from them?
For example: if you have a research study on support services for victims of violence in five countries of Southern Europe, then obviously policy makers, NGOs, social services and others not only in those five countries but in other EU countries and indeed in the European institutions, will find them of interest. Particularly if you have included in that study some recommendations on what needs to change, or what works or does not work.
If, on the other hand, you have lessons about challenges that you and your partners faced, for example in getting translations of training materials done within the budget, then the most likely users of that information will be organizations that are planning Daphne projects or indeed other projects.
You can see that these two results of your project are very different, are valuable to different users and so will have to be dealt with in different ways.
How are the users likely to use them and what form should they be in to help them to use them?
The research study in our example is in some ways easy, but still needs thought. What languages will you produce the report in? (If you have a limited budget, you may want to produce it in full in the languages of your partner countries but also produce brief executive summaries in other languages too). Do not presume that, because a lot of Europeans can read and understand English, this is somehow a ‘universal’ language and that you can be ‘safe’ in producing just English versions of the materials. Aim, within the limits of the project budget, to produce materials in as many languages as you can, emphasizing the languages of countries in which the materials are most likely to be useful. Other questions to ask about disseminating your study are how long will it be and what will it contain?
The other example on disseminating experiences from challenges is not so easy. You have to get over the understandable reluctance to share with others things that may have been a challenge to you or even gone wrong. Just remember that every lesson is a useful lesson, even if at the time it seemed very negative. One obvious way to share these lessons is through your final report to the Commission, so be frank and clear in that report – we understand that things do not always turn out the way you intended or take you by surprise. And we value the lessons that can be learned from that.
There are many possible users of the results of your project. Think about them carefully, for example:
Given the format and the person I want to get the results to, what is the best way of reaching them?
For example, will you print that report and mail it out (expensive) or distribute it by e-mail? How do the users you have identified most often receive the materials they use? Note that if you are going to print it and send it out by mail, you need to include not only production costs but also mailing costs in your budget. And however you send it out, you need to work on developing a very carefully targeted mailing list to be sure you reach those you want to reach. Consider all the ways you might get the results out:
Note that websites do not figure in these lists as a means of dissemination. This is not because websites are not useful but because they are not so much a means of dissemination as a passive repository for the project’s output. Think of them as a library where the materials are safely stored but where people will only come if they know the address of the library, how to find what they are looking for and when to visit. In fact, the address of a website, a listing of contents and encouragement to visit it may well be an important output of the project.