Field Experiments and Their Critics

Essays on the Uses and Abuses of Experimentation in the Social Sciences

Edited by Dawn Langan Teele

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January 7, 2014
280 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300169409
Paper

In recent years, social scientists have engaged in a deep debate over the methods appropriate to their research. Their long reliance on passive observational collection of information has been challenged by proponents of experimental methods designed to precisely infer causal effects through active intervention in the social world. Some scholars claim that field experiments represent a new gold standard and the best way forward, while others insist that these methods carry inherent inconsistencies, limitations, or ethical dilemmas that observational approaches do not. This unique collection of essays by the most influential figures on every side of this debate reveals its most important stakes and will provide useful guidance to students and scholars in many disciplines.
Dawn Langan Teele is a Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Yale University

"An excellent book on a subject that lies at the center of current methodological debates in the social sciences. The volume brings together many of the leading protagonists and antagonists (i.e., skeptics) of the experimental method and in the process illustrates the strengths, and the limitations, of this powerful method. Astute and readable. Highly recommended."—John Gerring, author of Social Science Methodology: A Unified Framework

"Advocates and critics of experimental methods debate vigorously in this exceptionally important set of essays.   Neither scholars nor policy makers can remain aloof from this great debate; all will be rewarded by a close reading of this indispensable and engaging guide to the core questions of our discipline." - David Waldner, author of State Building and Late Development
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