Policy effectiveness research opportunity

Pilot Funding for Impact Assessment for Policy Innovations

The 2018 science prize of the Stifterverband and Leibniz Association “Society Needs Science” („Gesellschaft braucht Wissenschaft“) was awarded in part in recognition of field experimental work that seeks to assess the effects of policy innovations on development outcomes.

In fact, however, the use of experimental trials to assess the impact of interventions in Germany is quite rare. Putting policies to the test sometimes shows that innovations have powerful effects and provides justifications for scale up. But sometimes it suggests that long standing practices do not work as supposed, which calls for a rethink of the use or design of policies.

To help promote research on the impact of programs and policies, WZB will use this prize money and matching funds to support up to six pilot projects examining the impact on development outcomes from interventions implemented by German agencies or on outcomes related to political or social inequality in Germany.

The WZB department Institutions and Political Inequality (IPI), Director and team will engage with researchers on projects, provide feedback on designs, and discuss findings. The topics of research broadly will fall within the core focus areas of the unit.

Financial Support: Two to three projects will be financially supported of up to EURO 10,000 each in June of 2019 and two more in June of 2020.

Duration: Projects should last no more than 12 months and result in a design for a scale up study (or a report indicating that such a scale up is not possible). Core activities, for the first round, should take place in 2019, with write up and analysis in early 2020.

Eligibility: PhD students or postdoctoral researchers in social sciences are eligible to apply. PIs should apply with a partner identified and a letter of support indicating the partner’s willingness to work collaboratively on piloting an impact evaluation. PIs chosen for project funding would be affiliated to a WZB research unit for the duration of the project.

What can be funded: Direct research costs can be funded including data collection, travel, materials. PI salaries cannot be funded.

Substance: An ideal project would identify a question of social science importance and policy relevance, identify a plausible feature of an intervention or program that is ethically and practically amenable to variation to assess causal effects. The application would describe a strategy to implement a small scale pilot demonstrating feasibility of assessing the impacts of an intervention. Applications should outline a strategy that involves the generation of an intervention, identification of subjects, random assignment, baseline and endline measurement, and data analysis. The expected budget should be indicated in the application. For research partnerships we urge adherence to the egap statement of principles, as appropriate:  https://egap.org/egap-statement-of-principles.

Ethics: Ethical approvals should be sought for all pilots engaging human subjects and consent processes should normally be used for all engaged subjects.

Presentations: PIs will be expected to present designs as well as pilot findings at a small workshop hosted by IPI in April 2020 and April 2021.

Applications: Applicants for the first round should complete the short on line application form available here https://forms.gle/tcF3NqhmQRAHyWSP8 by 15 June 2019 and send a recent CV to application-ipi [at] wzb.eu (subject line: “Society Needs Science”). The call for the second round will be released in January 2020.