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, Jacob Appel delves into the common causes of failure in field research, so that researchers might avoid similar pitfalls in future work. He will be discussing how to draw on the experience of such failures with fellow social scientists Betsy Levy Paluck and Christopher Neilson. Please join us.
Drawing on the experiences of top social scientists working in developing countries, Appel’s book examines 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.
Jacob Appel previously worked with Innovations for Poverty Action, and is currently pursuing his MPA at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Karlan and Appel are the coauthors of More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty. Betsy Levy Paluck is Professor in the Psychology Department and at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She is the author Prejudice Reduction: What Works? Christopher Neilson is Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeotn’s Woodrow Wilson School. His general fields of study include public economics, labor economics and industrial organization.