UNICEF Webinar: Randomized Controlled Trials

What are the key features of an RCT? Are RCTs really the gold standard? What ethical and practical issues do I need to consider before deciding to do an RCT?

The fifth webinar in this series is presented by international evaluation expert and former Executive Director of 3ie, Dr Howard White.

In webinar 5, Dr White provides an introduction to RCTs and cover different types of RCT design, the necessary conditions for successfully evaluating programmes using an RCT, ethical and practical considerations, and examples of good and bad practices.

In partnership with the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, the RMIT University-based BetterEvaluation team worked with evaluation experts and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) to deliver a series of webinars on impact evaluaton for UNICEF staff on topics pertinent to development professionals. These webinars follow on from a series of 13 methodological briefs on impact evaluation methodsLike the methodological briefs, the webinars are best suited to UNICEF staff who commission or utilize the results from impact evaluations, but will likely be of interest to others. The objective is to provide an interactive capacity-building experience to UNICEF staff, covering common challenges from the field and answering practical questions.

View the other webinars in this series.

Watch webinar

Listen to Q&As

How cost effective is the RCT design, particularly for developing countries?



After conducting a baseline outcome analysis - can we design an RCT for monitoring and impact analysis?


How can we justify assessment of impact that appears over a longer period of time especially when chances of losing participants to follow up is high?


Could you please talk a little about some of the "rules of thumb" for ensuring adequate power in RCTs?


“The random allocation of the treatment can lead to intervention sites being geographically scattered, generating additional costs for programme implementation, and potential reduction in outcomes when success depends on diffusion or competition/emulation between intervention sites.” How can we address these issues in RCTs?

About this webinar series

Throughout 2015, BetterEvaluation partnered with the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti to develop eight impact evaluation webinars for UNICEF staff. The objective was to provide an interactive capacity-building experience, customized to focus on UNICEF’s work and the unique circumstances of conducting impact evaluations of programs and policies in international development. The webinars were based on the Impact Evaluation Series – a user-friendly package of 13 methodological briefs and four animated videos – and presented by the briefs' authors. This page provides links not only to the eight webinars, but also to the practical questions and their answers which followed each webinar presentation.

The findings, interpretations and opinions expressed in the webinars are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The presenters are independent impact evaluation experts who were commissioned by UNICEF to prepare the webinars and use their own knowledge and judgement on key issues and to provide advice. The questions and comments reflected in the Q & A materials are based on those submitted by UNICEF staff as part of this capacity-building initiative. They do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of UNICEF.

The webinars were commissioned by UNICEF and UNICEF is entitled to all intellectual property and other proprietary rights which bear a direct relation to the contract under which this work was produced. The materials on this page are subject to a Creative Commons license CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial) and may be used and reproduced in line with the conditions of this licence.

View all eight webinars in this series:


White, H. (2015, June). Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs). Impact evaluation webinars for UNICEF [Webinar]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRarkBOJv6Q

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