Friday, September 15, 2006

Randomized experiments in social research

MDRC has released a guidance statement, "The core analytics of randomized experiments for social research," that may be of interest to those thinking about evaluation of programs/services in the health sciences. The abstract notes, "Its goal is to provide a compact discussion for faculty members, graduate students, and applied researchers of the design and analysis of randomized experiments for measuring the impacts of social or educational interventions."

The paper covers both design issues (e.g. selecting a study sample, randomizing particpants) and analysis issues (e.g. estimating impact in the presence of participant noncompliance, estimating impacts on randomized groups rather than individuals).

The document is part of a broader initiative by the MDRC to aid evaluation efforts: "Launched in 1999, the Initiative is exploring the use of quantitative and qualitative methods in the context of experimental, quasiexperimental and mixed research designs to rigorously study how programs are implemented, the impacts they produce, and how their implementation affects their impacts." Other papers in the series are also available.

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