Published on Development Impact

Weekly Links May 2: Mobile phones, working with messy data, funding, working with children, and more…

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“I should leave the final word to Archie Cochrane. In his trial of coronary care units, run in the teeth of vehement opposition, early results suggested that home care was at the time safer than hospital care. Mischievously, Cochrane swapped the results round, giving the cardiologists the (false) message that their hospitals were best all along.
“They were vociferous in their abuse,” he later wrote, and demanded that the “unethical” trial stop immediately. He then revealed the truth and challenged the cardiologists to close down their own hospital units without delay. “There was dead silence.”
Followed by Harford’s closing line: “The world often surprises even the experts. When considering an intervention that might profoundly affect people’s lives, if there is one thing more unethical than running a randomised trial, it’s not running the trial”
  • Useful and free tools for working with messy data sets from Monitoring and Evaluation News – includes a tool to convert PDF to Excel tables.
  • On the FAI blog, Jean Lee discusses new remittance data being collected as part of the Global Findex project.
  • On the 3ie blog, Howard White discusses the case against independent evaluation – “If the evaluation agency is totally outside of the agency it is evaluating it can lack access and influence. That is, it will not have the same understanding of how the agency works. …Influence is greater as an internal agency can keep up sustained communication during and after the study.  And all agencies have a tendency to take reports from their own agency more seriously than they do those by outsiders, who can readily be written off as not really understanding the programme or even the institution.”
  • A new review paper on using experiments to study political institutions
  • New funding opportunity: DIME has launched a call for proposals for Impact Evaluation to Development Impact (i2i), the new World Bank umbrella fund for IE supported by DFID. This first call is for IE concept note preparation for 10 new impact evaluations in Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations (FCS) in one or more of the following prioritized areas: (i) jobs and productive opportunities for youth at risk; (ii) urban crime and violence; (iii) sexual and gender-based violence; and (iv) public sector governance.
  • A new reference website for ethics of research involving children: The 'Ethical Research Involving Children' (ERIC) project – has a variety of resources including ethical guidance, case studies discussing different issues, a resource library, etc.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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