Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) for quantitative social researchers - online
07/09/2022 - 08/09/2022
Dr Andi Fugard
Intermediate (some prior knowledge)
+44 20 7549 7185
Run online by NatCen Social Research
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.
Dr Andi Fugard (they/them) is a Research Director in NatCen Evaluation. They have experience designing, project managing, and analysing data from randomised controlled trials in mental health and education. Before joining NatCen, Andi was a Senior Lecturer in Social Science Research Methods at Birkbeck, University of London, where they directed postgraduate programmes in Social Research, and Lecturer in Educational Psychology Research Methods at University College London.
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
By the end of the course participants will be able to:
- Explain the life cycle of an RCT
- Explain the benefits and costs of different RCT designs
- Use the potential outcomes framework to define what can be estimated in an RCT
- Choose a sample size for common designs
- Apply prior knowledge of quantitative analysis to RCTs
- Identify and address common threats to validity in RCTs
IMPORTANT: Please note that this course includes computer workshops. Before registering please check that you will be able to access the software noted below. Please bear in mind minimum system requirements to run software and administration restrictions imposed by your institution or employer with may block the installation of software.
The course will include practical activities using PowerUp! which is freely available and runs as a Microsoft Excel macro.
It is assumed that participants have a firm grasp of the foundation of quantitative methods used in social science, such as linear regression and confidence intervals.
It will also facilitate the course if participants have a specific idea for an RCT they would ideally like to run.
If necessary, revise key concepts in multiple regression, effect size, and confidence intervals in a text of your choosing.
You might find it interesting to have a look at these, though this is not necessary:
- Cunningham, S. (2021). Causal inference: The mixtape. Yale University Press. (Available for free online.) The chapter on the Potential Outcomes Causal Model is relevant to the course.
- Imai, K., King, G., & Stuart, E. A. (2008). Misunderstandings between experimentalists and observationalists about causal inference. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 171(2), 481–502. A preprint is available here if you do not have access to the journal.
We will introduce key concepts from these papers on the first day in an accessible way.
Weds 7 Sept 2022 : 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
Thurs 8 Sept 2022 : 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
The fee per teaching day is: £30 per day for students registered at a University / £60 per day for staff working for academic institutions, Research Councils and other recognised research institutions, registered charity organisations and the public sector / £100 per day for all other participants. In the event of cancellation by the delegate a full refund of the course fee is available up to two weeks prior to the course. NO refunds are available after this date. If it is no longer possible to run a course due to circumstances beyond its control, NCRM reserves the right to cancel the course at its sole discretion at any time prior to the event. In this event every effort will be made to reschedule the course. If this is not possible or the new date is inconvenient a full refund of the course fee will be given. NCRM shall not be liable for any costs, losses or expenses that may be incurred as a result of its cancellation of a course, including but not limited to any travel or accommodation costs. The University of Southampton’s Online Store T&Cs also continue to apply.
Website and registration:
Exploratory Research, Explanatory Research and Causal analysis, Experimental Research , Quasi-Experimental Research, Evaluation Research, Behavioural Research, Regression Methods, Quantitative Approaches (other), Research Ethics, Evidence-Based Policy and Practice, Hypothesis Testing Research, Regression Analysis
Related publications and presentations:
Explanatory Research and Causal analysis
Quantitative Approaches (other)
Evidence-Based Policy and Practice