Study Design

Create a Monitoring Plan

Prior to developing a monitoring program it is essential to think through the scientific process and the steps necessary to create a program where the data collected match the monitoring objectives. Through the study design process, we will walk you through the choices you have in setting up a new monitoring program and document those choices you make in a written monitoring plan. For existing programs, the monitoring plan will document choices made when the program was started, any changes that have been made along the way and plans for the future.

This monitoring plan is intended to be used as a guiding document for your program and should be revisited annually, once monitoring begins, to determine if the data you are collecting are answering the initial questions that prompted monitoring and to determine if your methods are still appropriate.

Preparing a monitoring plan is the most important step in organizing your monitoring efforts because:

  • It helps you to focus on what you are trying to achieve with your monitoring program,
  • It allows you to learn all of the components of stream monitoring before “getting your feet wet”,
  • It clearly documents your sampling and analysis methods along with your quality assurance procedures,
  • It helps you to select the most appropriate monitoring strategies to address the issues that are important to you, your group, and your community, and
  • It minimizes the impact of changing members on the continuity of your monitoring activities.

The decisions made in the study design process will determine the types of training provided by the CMC service provider for the program coordinator or monitors before sampling can begin.