Policy ForumSocial Science

Promoting Transparency in Social Science Research

Science  03 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6166, pp. 30-31
DOI: 10.1126/science.1245317

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There is growing appreciation for the advantages of experimentation in the social sciences. Policy-relevant claims that in the past were backed by theoretical arguments and inconclusive correlations are now being investigated using more credible methods. Changes have been particularly pronounced in development economics, where hundreds of randomized trials have been carried out over the last decade. When experimentation is difficult or impossible, researchers are using quasi-experimental designs. Governments and advocacy groups display a growing appetite for evidence-based policy-making. In 2005, Mexico established an independent government agency to rigorously evaluate social programs, and in 2012, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget advised federal agencies to present evidence from randomized program evaluations in budget requests (1, 2).