Category: RCTs

The most consequential experiments carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic will be social

The public image of the response to COVID-19 has been presented primarily through a scientific lens. However, as Alana Couvrette argues, the COVID-19 pandemic has been as intense a period of socio-political experimentation, as scientific. Drawing on ex…

If we’re serious about changing the world, we need to get our evidence right – A comment on the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics.

The announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics has highlighted divisions within the development economics community, particularly around the efficacy of using Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) as a tool for making social interventions. In this post Gorgi Krlev discusses the pros and cons of experimental approaches in economics and suggests that rather than seeing routes to delivering social change as […]

The human element – why randomised control trials need mixed methods approaches

The applicability of Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) to the social sciences has been widely questioned. However, assessing the effectiveness of RCTs, in practice has proved difficult. In this post, Naila Kabeer reflects on her recent research into randomised control trials utilised as part of a programme to alleviate poverty in West Bengal and highlights how, when RCTs are used in […]

Contrary to common belief, randomised controlled trials inevitably produce biased results

Much of the social and medical sciences depend on randomised control trials. But while this may be considered the foundational experimental method, a certain degree of bias inevitably arises in any trial; whether this is sample bias, selection bias, or measurement bias. This is important as the level of validity of a trial’s causal claims can be a matter of […]