In This Article Field Experiments

  • Introduction
  • Data Sources
  • Experimental Method and Random Assignment
  • Field Experiments
  • Ethical Considerations

Political Science Field Experiments
by
Donald P. Green, Alexander Coppock
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0092

Introduction

Field experimentation is a method of inquiry that allows social science researchers to accomplish at least two tasks that are impossible through speculation or observation alone. The first is to establish causality. Causal claims abound in the social sciences, and experiments provide a means to test them convincingly. The second task is estimating the sign and magnitude of treatment effects in real-world settings. The precision produced by experiments allows for a realistic calculation of the costs and benefits of policies and programs. This annotated bibliography aims to lay out the methodological benefits of field experimentation, as well as some important limitations and how best to deal with them. The references cited in these sections, which include noteworthy applications and technical discussions, should give the interested reader a broad introduction to field experimentation. The references also provide a snapshot of how field experimentation is used in political science and policy research.

Data Sources

Yale University’s Institution for Social and Policy Studies Data Archive, the Dataverse Network Project, and the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) provide access to publicly available datasets from randomized experiments. The Poverty Action Lab, Field Experiment Bibliography, and the Randomized Social Experiments eJournal collect published experimental results.

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