Around the Institute

Warning: Big Data Coming Through

April 11, 2014

Quality, Quantity, Anxiety

We often rely on qualitative data and relatively small quantitative data sets for our evaluations of complex policy and social change processes. Sometimes it seems like all the cool kids are talking about quantitative techniques that rely on big data. But before we succumb to big data envy, check out these nine cautionary notes from Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis.

Care for a Placebo in your Survey?

Last week, Russ Whitehurst of Brookings and David Stuitt of Basis Policy Research presented the value of “survey with placebo”—without over-stating the conclusions from their single application of this technique in the rather bizarre political context of Louisiana school choice debates. In case you missed it, check out their Power Point presentation on our website. By the way, our next breakfast is scheduled for May 1st and will feature folks from USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives. We’re still working on an abstract, but for those of you wh o can’t wait to sign up here’s the RSVP form. Trust us: we always put on a good (and caffeinated) show!   

Nonprofits Online

Hold on to your chairs, readers, ‘cause the data geeks at M+R just released the 2014 edition of their annual Benchmarks Study. M+R once again surveyed several nonprofits about their online tactics to raise funds and conduct advocacy, and the results from this work. Want to learn more?  Sign up for the free webinar next Wednesday. As their trailer hilariously points out (oh yes, they made a trailer), this report is rated FAN for “Fundraising and Advocacy Nerds Only.” Melodramatically awesome and awesomely melodramatic.