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Showing posts from November, 2014

Electronic Data Collection – An overview for beginners

We feature a collaborative blogpost by our research associates,  Sneha Mani and Suraj Nair

Today, electronic data collection finds application in various walks of life - be it in hospitals, industries, or offices. Since the advent of Open Data Kit (ODK) and Survey CTO,among other software platforms, electronic data collection has drastically changed the way surveys are administered. The greater familiarity of the general public with cell phones and tablets has aided the use of electronic devices when surveying human subjects. More importantly, surveyors also have a better understanding of the equipment, which makes the training a lot easier to manage.

Why Electronic Surveying?

The biggest advantage, and also the most obvious, of electronic surveying is that it provides easy access to data after collection. It completely eliminates the various problems that arise during manual data entry, which is a necessity if the survey is paper based. Moreover, electronic survey forms of…

How cultural beliefs and attitudes of women influence women’s participation in economic development

Previous studies on women’s role in agriculture and nutrition have indicated that women’s empowerment in agriculture is positively associated with per adult equivalent calorie availability and dietary diversity (Malapit 2013).  Research has also found that a woman’s decision-making autonomy has a positive effect on her daughter’s well-being (Luciana 2012).  Development experts have acknowledged that inequality in participation between men and women manifests itself in lower agricultural productivity, food insecurity and reduced rural economic development. In India, both governments as well as non-government bodies are targeting women from marginal families as the beneficiaries as well as important part of the decision-making bodies of farm-related extension program opportunities. Yet, despite women being actively engaged in farm work, and government’s rigorous efforts to introduce innovative agriculture initiatives that women could adopt, the adoption has not been satisfactory.


The pre…

Bridging the Last Mile : Evaluation of Mobile Phone- Based Agricultural Extension

In 2011, we launched a large-scale field experiment to evaluate a service (Avaaj Otalo, or AO) that delivers mobile-phone-based agricultural information to cotton farmers in western India. This service provides weekly agricultural advice in the form of voice calls to farmers, also allowing farmers to call in to the phone line to ask questions that are answered by local experts, or to share their experiences with other users. Extension delivered via information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to revolutionize the cost and efficacy with which information reaches farmers, overcoming many of the limitations of traditional extension delivered through government extension workers. Unlike the traditional model which is hindered by dispersed rural populations, inability to provide customized and timely information and lack of follow-up, services like AO can cater to the dynamic information needs of farmers in a timely and cost-effective manner, allowing for efficient …

Can Qualitative Research be Rigorous? Part 3: Sample size

Since the last post, I’ve had the opportunity to witness a couple of dialogues on the quantitative vs. qualitative debate; some were more encouraging than others. The first was during a panel session at the fall conference in Manila, where I witnessed one presenter’s harangue against the perpetrators of quantitative research, particularly those involved in RCTs. The main point of her talk was, I believe, to advocate for the value of qualitative research and point out that RCTs often miss subtleties that qualitative research is well-positioned to address. I agreed with the main point, but was disappointed with her approach. Rather than convey a way to bridge the two sometimes disparate fields, she pitted them against each other, pronouncing qualitative the winner. I observed more than one person enthusiastically rallying against RCTs after this session and I thought that was an unfortunate turn of events. 

To those who still see qualitative and quantitative methods as fundamentally diff…

Women’s Empowerment: The Importance of Micro Level Indicators

We feature a collaborative post by our  RA's, Arpita Khanna and Monisha Mason.

Women’s empowerment is usually measured by several macro level indicators such as fertility rates, literacy rates, participation in the labor force, and involvement in political affairs. While the importance of these is undisputed, we believe there is also a lot of merit in understanding the issues prevalent at the micro level. Micro level indicators help capture the dynamics at play at the household level, which is critical for the understanding of women’s empowerment. Understanding the micro issues is fundamental, as many times, changes emanate from the small to the large. This micro approach helps one understand why things happen as contrasted with what happens, which is what the macro approach reflects.
During our field visits to our study villages, we have had the opportunity to experience certain micro level indicators. Just by listening to conversations within a family, between neighbours, and amo…