Although this guest post for the Global Anticorruption Blog is not formally part 4 in a series on Corruption among development NGOs, conceptually it certainly is part of it. For the background of this series, see part 1. The original of this post can be found here (the below is a slightly edited version). The full reports underlying the series can be accessed on my publications page. Parts two and three of the series can be accessed here and here .
Why anticorruption practitioners should scrutinize and challenge research methodology
In a previous post, I described a survey used to estimate the incidence of fraud and associated problems within the Cambodian NGO sector. The response to the results of that survey have so far been somewhat disheartening—not so much because the research has had little influence on action (the fate of most such research), but rather because those who have been told about the study’s results have all taken the results for granted, questioning neither their meaningfulness nor how they were generated. Such at-face-value uptake is, paradoxically, a huge risk to the longer-term public acceptance of the evidence produced by social science research. I am relieved that methodological considerations (issues of publication bias, replicability, p-hacking, and others) are finally getting some traction within the social science community, but it is evident that the decades-long neglect of these problems dovetails with a public opinion climate that doubts and disparages social science expertise. Continue reading