We’ve set up each of our randomized control trials with a team of one to two full time Liberian qualitative researchers. Over two years we’ve discovered people with an incredible talent for observing, talking, confiding, and (increasingly) analysis. They get reams of information and insight unavailable to the foreigner. The data are voluminous. If the interventions work, we have a solid idea why. Another benefit: new questions and hypotheses to test quantitatively—some more interesting than the originals. And it’s a poor but respectable substitute for the dwindling time I have to spend in the field. Every research project should build this in.
Chris Blattman on mixing qual and quant methods.