Randomized Controlled Trials: How Can We Know 'What Works'?

Critical Review 29(3) (2017)

39 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2017 Last revised: 2 Nov 2018

See all articles by Nick Cowen

Nick Cowen

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln

Baljinder Virk

Independent

Stella Mascarenhas-Keyes

Independent

Nancy Cartwright

Durham University

Date Written: November 1, 2017

Abstract

We attempt to map the limits of evidence-based policy through an interactive theoretical critique and empirical case-study. We outline the emergence of an experimental turn in EBP among British policymakers and the limited, broadly inductive, epistemic approach that underlies it. We see whether and how field professionals identify and react to these limitations through a case study of teaching professionals subject to a push to integrate research evidence into their practice. Results suggest that many of the challenges of establishing evidential warrant that EBP is supposed to streamline re-appear at the level of choice of locally effective policies and implementation.

Keywords: Behavioral Economics; Evidence-Based Policy; Meta-Analysis; Nudge; Nudging; Systematic Review; Education Policy

JEL Classification: D91; D80; C90

Suggested Citation

Cowen, Nick and Virk, Baljinder and Mascarenhas-Keyes, Stella and Cartwright, Nancy, Randomized Controlled Trials: How Can We Know 'What Works'? (November 1, 2017). Critical Review 29(3) (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3063541

Nick Cowen (Contact Author)

School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln ( email )

Lincoln LN2
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://ulincoln.academia.edu/NickCowen

Baljinder Virk

Independent ( email )

Nancy Cartwright

Durham University

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