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Randomized Trials

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R
andomized Trials

Randomized experiments are sometimes referred to as the “gold standard” for research studies designed to determine the causal relationship between two variables. In random control studies, individuals are randomly assigned to an intervention group or a control group in order to measure the effects of the intervention.  

Topic Learning Outcome: Students will understand the characteristics of a valid randomized trial experiment and will be able to explain the value of such experiments for understanding the causal relationships between variables.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Random Control Trials (RCTs)

Recommended Reading

University of Toronto: PPG-1004

Stock, James H. and Mark W. Watson. 2011. Introduction to Econometrics, 3rd ed. Pearson/Addison-Wesley. Chapter 13 (p. 469-506).

George Washington: PPPA-6002

De Veaux, Richard D., Paul F. Velleman, and David E. Bock. Stats: Data and Models. Boston: Pearson/Addison Wesley, 2005. Chapter 10 (sections 10.3 – 10.5, 10.7) and Chapter 15 (sections  15.1, 15.2, 15.4).

American: PUAD-605

Healey, J.H. (2011) Statistics: A Tool for Social Research. 9th Edition. Cengage Learning. Chapters 5 and 6.

UCLA: PP-208

Wooldridge, Jeffrey (2012). Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach. 4th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2012. Chapter 17. 

Rutgers: Analytical Methods II

Healey (2011). Statistics: A Tool for Social Research, 9th Edition. Cengage Learning. Chapters 6 and 7. 

Schroeder, Larry D., Sjoquist, David L., & Stephan, Paula E. (1986). “Understanding Regression Analysis: An Introductory Guide”. Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences 57. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Possible Assessment Questions:

1.)   What are the advantages of randomized trials as opposed to other research designs in studying the causal relationship between two variables?

2.)   Provide an example of a policy-relevant social science question for which it may be difficult to design a randomized trial (either for practical or ethical reasons). What would the challenges be?

3.)   What is the difference between a random control experiment and a quasi-experimental design?

4.)   What is a “natural experiment?”

Page Created By: Ben Eisen and Joshua Tan, last edited 4 November, 2014.

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© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance