Failing in the Field: What We Can Learn When Field Research Goes Wrong

A revealing look at the common causes of failures in randomized control experiments during field reseach—and how to avoid them


Dec 18, 2018
5.5 x 8.5 in.
2 b/w illus.
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All across the social sciences, from development economics to political science, researchers are going into the field to collect data and learn about the world. Successful randomized controlled trials have brought about enormous gains, but less is learned when projects fail. In Failing in the Field, Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel examine the taboo subject of failure in field research so that researchers might avoid the same pitfalls in future work. Drawing on the experiences of top social scientists working in developing countries, this book describes five common categories of failures, reviews six case studies in detail, and concludes with reflections on best (and worst) practices for designing and running field projects, with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials. Failing in the Field is an invaluable “how-not-to” guide to conducting fieldwork and running randomized controlled trials in development settings.