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I have taken a special interest on sample size calculations for randomized controlled trials. I believe that the sophistication of the sample size methods commonly used has not kept pace with the complexity of the experimental designs most often employed in practice by economists (or at least that is my take after reviewing research proposals for different funding bodies). This led me to write (jointly with Brendon McConnell) a practitioner's guide to more complex methods to compute the required sample.

Going beyond simple sample size calculations: a practitioner's guide (jointly with Brendon McConnell). IFS Working Paper 15/17

In this paper, we compile available methods for sample size calculations for continuous and binary outcomes with and without covariates, for both clustered and non-clustered RCTs. Formulae for panel data and for unbalanced designs (where there are different numbers of treatment and control observations) are also provided. The paper includes three extensions: (1) methods to optimize the sample when costs constraints are binding; (2) simulation methods to compute the power of a complex design; and (3) methods to consider in the sample size calculation adjustments for multiple testing. The paper is provided together with spreadsheets and STATA code to implement the methods discussed.

Click here to view accompanying sample size calculators for this paper.

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