Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) for quantitative social researchers (online)


07/09/2021 - 08/09/2021

Organised by:

National Centre for Social Research


Dr Andi Fugard & Dr Enes Duysak


Intermediate (some prior knowledge)


Paige Ridd
0207 549 7194

video conference logo

Venue: Online


Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are heralded as the gold standard of research design in the social sciences. RCT principles are used in research at all levels of complexity from evaluating national social policies to experimenting with the impact of website designs (there often known as A/B testing). This course is for social researchers who have a firm grasp of the foundations of quantitative research methods (e.g., linear regression and confidence intervals) and would like to learn how to design and analyse randomised controlled trials. The course incorporates a blend of presentations and participatory sessions, using examples from the social sciences.

We will begin by outlining the fundamental problem of casual thinking with the aid of the potential outcomes approach. Following this, we will explore how randomising people (or schools, or clinics, or whatever) to different interventions and comparison groups makes it easier to draw inferences about the causal impact of those interventions.

Sessions will then cover when randomisation is likely feasible and ethical; how to randomise and ways to limit the possible random assignments; key decisions on the level of randomisation (e.g., individual or a larger “cluster”); how to choose a sample size; how to represent an RCT design in a regression model; and finally, how to address common pragmatic issues such as participant “compliance”, attrition, and other threats to study validity.

The course covers:

  • The fundamental problem of causal inference and how randomisation helps
  • Neyman–Rubin’s potential outcomes framework
  • An overview of RCTs, from idea and preregistration to final analysis and report
  • Methods of randomisation
  • Choosing a sample size
  • Current best practice in analysing data from RCTs
  • Managing “non-compliance” and other threats to study validity


  • Two consecutive mornings, 9:30 to 12:30 (Equal to one full day)
  • The sessions will be a blend of lecture, breakout room and whole group discussions, and practical exercises
  • Sessions will be synchronous
  • The course will include practical activities using PowerUp! which is freely available and runs as a Microsoft Excel macro


£30 per day for students registered at UK/EU University. £60 per day for staff at UK/EU academic institutions, UK/EU Research Councils researchers, UK/EU public sector staff and staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations and recognised UK/EU research institutions. £100 per day for all other participants

Website and registration:


South East


Explanatory Research and Causal analysis, Evaluation Research, Behavioural Research, Hypothesis testing research, Research Ethics, Evidence-Based Policy and Practice, Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research , Quantitative Approaches (general) , Regression Analysis

Related publications and presentations:

Explanatory Research and Causal analysis
Evaluation Research
Behavioural Research
Hypothesis testing research
Research Ethics
Evidence-Based Policy and Practice

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