Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)

Howard White
Shagun Sabarwal

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is a way of doing impact evaluation in which the population receiving the program or policy intervention is chosen at random from the eligible population, and a control group is also chosen at random from the same eligible population. It tests the extent to which specific, planned impacts are being achieved.

This report disects randomized controlled trials by providing a description of RCTs, information about when it is most appropriate to use this method, ways to conduct a randomized controlled trial, ethical issues and practical limitations when using randomized controlled trials, other methods that may work, proper ways to present results and analysis, examples of good practices, examples of challenges faced, and additional key readings. 

Image of Thomas de Hoop
Managing Economist and Program Area Lead, Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition