2 – Additional Considerations for Field Experiments

2.1 – Risks and Benefits

Researchers are especially required to weight the benefits of risk and harm to participants in field experiments. The basic principle should be to maximize possible benefits and minimize possible harms. Risks should be reduced to those necessary to achieve the research objective. Risk can perhaps never be entirely eliminated, but it can often be reduced by careful attention to alternative procedures. When research involves significant risk of serious impairment, researchers must provide strong justification of the risk (for example, by demonstrating the likelihood of benefit to the subject). When vulnerable populations are involved in research, the appropriateness of involving them should be demonstrated. Relevant risks and benefits must be thoroughly arrayed in documents and procedures used in the informed consent process.

2.2 – Debriefing

CESS strongly encourage experimenters to debrief participants after the experiment has been finalised, even if no deception is involved. We suggest this as good practice, especially if there are multiple sessions within a community. Debriefing should also include information about the purpose, results, and implications of the study.

2.3 – Field Partners

When experimenters have field partners which take at least a part of responsibilities in implementing the intervention, the experimenters should provide the information about the identity of field partners, as well as the share of responsibility among the experimenters and partners and potential conflicts of interests. Reasonable efforts should be made for partners to fully understand the objective, research design, limitations and costs of research. Particular emphasis should be on making sure that even partners without technical knowledge and professional background fully understand all technical and non-technical information related to the field experiment.

Wherever possible, a formal Memorandum of Understanding between the researcher and the partner organization should be signed at the beginning of a project laying out the roles and responsibilities of both parties. Researchers should normally not receive remuneration from project implementers whose projects they are studying. In cases in which researchers receive remuneration from such agencies, this fact should be disclosed in all publications resulting from the collaboration. It should be agreed in advance, and not contingent upon findings, what findings and data can be used for publication and will be made publicly available. In cases in which such agreement is not made in advance, and unconditional on findings, this fact should be noted in publications.