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Policymakers are increasingly interested in using administrative data to address policy-relevant research questions. While researchers generally prefer individual-level administrative data in order to provide maximum flexibility to their analyses, it can be both difficult and costly to obtain. When individual-level data are not available or are too difficult or costly, aggregate administrative data can address many policy-relevant research questions...

Social service program stakeholders need timely evidence to inform ongoing program decisions. Rapid learning methods, defined here as a set of approaches designed to quickly and/or iteratively test program improvements and evaluate program implementation or impact, can help inform such decisions. However, stakeholders may be unsure which rapid learning methods are most appropriate for a program’s specific challenges and how to best apply the methods. Additionally, they may be unsure how to cultivate a culture of continuous, iterative learning.

There is a growing understanding that there are some inherent limitations in using p-values to guide decisions about programs and policies. Bayesian methods are emerging as the primary alternative to p-values and offer a number of advantages...

In the fall of 2014, OPRE organized an Innovative Methods meeting to explore cutting-edge applications of methods and analytic techniques that can inform social program practice and policy. This brief summarizes the meeting and includes..

Federally funded systematic reviews of research evidence play a central role in efforts to base policy decisions on evidence. Historically, evidence reviews have reserved the highest ratings of quality for studies that employ experimental designs, namely randomized control trials (RCTs). However, RCTs are not appropriate for evaluating all intervention programs. To develop an evidence base for those programs, evaluators may need to use non-experimental study designs.

This brief has two main goals:

  • Describe the features of a well-designed and implemented subgroup analysis that uses a multiple regression framework.
  • Provide an overview of recent methodological developments and alternative approaches to conducting subgroup analyses.

The brief builds on a 2009 meeting of experts Visit disclaimer page convened by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation and a corresponding 2012 publication in a special issue of Prevention Science Visit disclaimer page (MacKinnon, Supplee, Kelly, & Barofsky, 2012).

For nearly 100 years, the null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) framework has been used to determine which findings are meaningful (Fisher 1925; Neyman and Pearson 1933). Under this framework, findings deemed meaningful are called “statistically significant.”  But the meaning of statistical significance is often...

Administrative data have the potential to help us answer pressing social policy questions. Government stakeholders and researchers are exploring the promises of using administrative data for research purposes.

This brief summarizes an Innovative Methods Meeting that was organized by OPRE in the fall of 2015 that considered the potential benefits and pitfalls of using administrative data for research purposes...

Probability (p) values are widely used in social science research and evaluation to guide decisions on program and policy changes. However, they have some inherent limitations, sometimes leading to misuse, misinterpretation, or misinformed decisions. Bayesian methods...

In the fall of 2016, OPRE brought together a diverse group of participants from federal agencies, research firms, foundations, and academia to discuss alternatives to randomized controlled trials and their assumptions, trade-offs, benefits, and challenges.