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All across the social sciences, from development economics to political science departments, researchers are going into the field to collect data and learn about the world. While much has been gained from the successes of randomized controlled trials, stories of failed projects often do not get told. In Failing in the Field, Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel delve into the common causes of failure in field research, so that researchers might avoid similar pitfalls in future work. Drawing on the experiences of top social scientists working in developing countries, this book delves into failed projects and helps guide practitioners as they embark on their research. From experimental design and implementation to analysis and partnership agreements, Karlan and Appel show that there are important lessons to be learned from failures at every stage. They describe five common categories of failures, review six case studies in detail, and conclude with some reflections on best (and worst) practices for designing and running field projects, with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials. There is much to be gained from investigating what has previously not worked, from misunderstandings by staff to errors in data collection. Cracking open the taboo subject of the stumbles that can take place in the implementation of research studies, Failing in the Field is a valuable "how-not-to" handbook for conducting fieldwork and running randomized controlled trials in development settings.
All across the social sciences, from development economics to political science departments, researchers are going into the field to collect data and learn about the world. While much has been gained from the successes of randomized controlled trials, stories of failed projects often do not get told. In Failing in the Field, Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel delve into the common causes of failure in field research, so that researchers might avoid similar pitfalls in future work. Drawing on the experiences of top social scientists working in developing countries, this book delves into failed projects and helps guide practitioners as they embark on their research. From experimental design and implementation to analysis and partnership agreements, Karlan and Appel show that there are important lessons to be learned from failures at every stage. They describe five common categories of failures, review six case studies in detail, and conclude with some reflections on best (and worst) practices for designing and running field projects, with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials. There is much to be gained from investigating what has previously not worked, from misunderstandings by staff to errors in data collection. Cracking open the taboo subject of the stumbles that can take place in the implementation of research studies, Failing in the Field is a valuable "how-not-to" handbook for conducting fieldwork and running randomized controlled trials in development settings.
In recent decades there has been increasing attention to mass atrocities such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross human rights violations. At the same time, there has been a vast increase in the number of academics and researchers seeking to analyze the causes of, and offer practical responses to, these atrocities. Yet there remains insufficient discussion of the practical and ethical challenges surrounding research into serious abuses and dealing with vulnerable populations. The aim of this edited volume is to guide researchers in identifying and addressing challenges in conducting qualitative research in difficult circumstances, such as conducting research in autocratic or uncooperative regimes, with governmental or non-governmental officials, and perhaps most importantly, with reluctant respondents such as victims of genocide or (on the other side of the coin) war criminals. The volume proceeds in five substantive sections, each addressing a different challenge of conducting field research in conflict-affected or repressive situations: Ethics Access Veracity Security Identity, objectivity, behaviour. This important text will be vital reading for students, scholars and researchers in the areas of research methods, international relations, anthropology and human rights. It will also be of keen interest to policy practioners and NGOs, and especially relevant for those working in the regions of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
Disasters in Field Research is your guide to what can go wrong while conducting fieldwork—and what you can do to avoid or minimize the impact of unexpected negative events as diverse as ravenous ants, temperamental gear, debilitating illness, and unpredictable politics.
Just as pilots and doctors improve by studying crash reports and postmortems, experience designers can improve by learning how customer experience failures cause products to fail in the marketplace. Rather than proselytizing a particular approach to design, Why We Fail holistically explores what teams actually built, why the products failed, and how we can learn from the past to avoid failure ourselves.
Discussions of the use and limits of randomized control trials, considering the power of theory, external validity, gaps in knowledge, and what issues matter.
A groundbreaking take on how complexity causes failure in all kinds of modern systems--from social media to air travel--this practical and entertaining book reveals how we can prevent meltdowns in business and life "Endlessly fascinating, brimming with insight, and more fun than a book about failure has any right to be, Meltdown will transform how you think about the systems that govern our lives. This is a wonderful book."--Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better A crash on the Washington, D.C. metro system. An accidental overdose in a state-of-the-art hospital. An overcooked holiday meal. At first glance, these disasters seem to have little in common. But surprising new research shows that all these events--and the myriad failures that dominate headlines every day--share similar causes. By understanding what lies behind these failures, we can design better systems, make our teams more productive, and transform how we make decisions at work and at home. Weaving together cutting-edge social science with riveting stories that take us from the frontlines of the Volkswagen scandal to backstage at the Oscars, and from deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico to the top of Mount Everest, Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik explain how the increasing complexity of our systems creates conditions ripe for failure and why our brains and teams can't keep up. They highlight the paradox of progress: Though modern systems have given us new capabilities, they've become vulnerable to surprising meltdowns--and even to corruption and misconduct. But Meltdown isn't just about failure; it's about solutions--whether you're managing a team or the chaos of your family's morning routine. It reveals why ugly designs make us safer, how a five-minute exercise can prevent billion-dollar catastrophes, why teams with fewer experts are better at managing risk, and why diversity is one of our best safeguards against failure. The result is an eye-opening, empowering, and entirely original book--one that will change the way you see our complex world and your own place in it.

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