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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.
What Works in Development? brings together leading experts to address one of the most basic yet vexing issues in development: what do we really know about what works— and what doesn't—in fighting global poverty? The contributors, including many of the world's most respected economic development analysts, focus on the ongoing debate over which paths to development truly maximize results. Should we emphasize a big-picture approach—focusing on the role of institutions, macroeconomic policies, growth strategies, and other country-level factors? Or is a more grassroots approach the way to go, with the focus on particular microeconomic interventions such as conditional cash transfers, bed nets, and other microlevel improvements in service delivery on the ground? The book attempts to find a consensus on which approach is likely to be more effective. Contributors include Nana Ashraf (Harvard Business School), Abhijit Banerjee (MIT), Nancy Birdsall (Center for Global Development), Anne Case (Princeton University), Jessica Cohen (Brookings),William Easterly (NYU and Brookings),Alaka Halla (Innovations for Poverty Action), Ricardo Hausman (Harvard University), Simon Johnson (MIT), Peter Klenow (Stanford University), Michael Kremer (Harvard), Ross Levine (Brown University), Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard), Ben Olken (MIT), Lant Pritchett (Harvard), Martin Ravallion (World Bank), Dani Rodrik (Harvard), Paul Romer (Stanford University), and DavidWeil (Brown).
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.
The social sector provides services to a wide range of people throughout the world with the aim of creating social value. While doing good is great, doing it well is even better. These organizations, whether nonprofit, for-profit, or public, increasingly need to demonstrate that their efforts are making a positive impact on the world, especially as competition for funding and other scarce resources increases. This heightened focus on impact is positive: learning whether we are making a difference enhances our ability to address pressing social problems effectively and is critical to wise stewardship of resources. Yet demonstrating efficacy remains a big hurdle for most organizations. The Goldilocks Challenge provides a parsimonious framework for measuring the strategies and impact of social sector organizations. A good data strategy starts first with a sound theory of change that helps organizations decide what elements they should monitor and measure. With a theory of change providing solid underpinning, the Goldilocks framework then puts forward four key principles, the CART principles: Credible data that are high quality and analyzed appropriately, Actionable data will actually influence future decisions; Responsible data create more benefits than costs; and Transportable data build knowledge that can be used in the future and by others. Mary Kay Gugerty and Dean Karlan combine their extensive experience working with nonprofits, for-profits and government with their understanding of measuring effectiveness in this insightful guide to thinking about and implementing evidence-based change. This book is an invaluable asset for nonprofit, social enterprise and government leaders, managers, and funders-including anyone considering making a charitable contribution to a nonprofit-to ensure that these organizations get it "just right" by knowing what data to collect, how to collect it, how it can be analyzed, and drawing implications from the analysis. Everyone who wants to make positive change should focus on the top priority: using data to learn, innovate, and improve program implementation over time. Gugerty and Karlan show how.
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.

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