We set up our Replication Programme to address the need for a freely available global public good that helps improve the quality and reliability of impact evaluation evidence used for development decision-making. Replication is the most established method of research validation in science, yet it has not been fully embraced by the research community or development donors, leading to this gap.
What is replication?
The 3ie programme highlights the benefits of replicating impact evaluations of development studies to incentivise replication of selected influential, innovative or controversial impact evaluations. Since 2012, we have funded more than 20 internal replications. This type of replication uses data from the original study and possibly existing secondary datasets from the same location to check the validity and robustness of the estimations and recommendations.
Where 3ie-funded replication studies confirm that the impact evaluation findings are valid and robust, they lend additional credibility to these findings for use in policy and programme decision-making.
For impact evaluations revealed to have invalid or non-robust findings, the replication results caution decision makers in the use of those findings. The overall benefit of 3ie’s programme, though, is to improve the incentives for all impact evaluators to conduct careful analysis leading to credible findings in the first place.
This selected bibliography attests to the fact that there is a growing number of replications in economics. For a multidisciplinary list of previous research on the practice of replication, see our replication methodologies bibliography. A comprehensive database of replication studies can also be found on the University of Göttingen's replication wiki website.
For a list of frequently asked questions about the 3ie Impact Evaluation Replication Programme, download the FAQ document.
- Replication programme: We provide funding for researchers to conduct replication studies of impact evaluations in low- and middle-income countries. We currently have two ongoing sector-focused programmes:
- Replication study status: We track the progress of each completed and ongoing study and those that could not be replicated.
- In-house replication: 3ie’s specialist staff also conduct replication studies and develop guidance on replication methodology.
- Data Preparation and Release Window: 3ie provides funding to original authors of 3ie-funded replication studies, published before September 2013, for preparing their raw datasets and accompanying codebooks for public release.
- Replication Paper Series: We publish replication studies funded through the replication programme, we may also include qualifying external submissions to the series.
- Push Button Replication: 3ie conducts push-button replications of all data sets emerging from 3ie-funded studies (see our research transparency page). We also completed a project to confirm the validity of published results using both the original data and the programming code from a study. Learn more about the project here.
3ie’s Replication Paper Series offers a defined space for and open access to replication studies of development impact evaluations.
These studies are published regardless of whether the findings support or question the results of the original paper. By providing a reputable publication outlet, we are encouraging researchers to undertake the replication of research in general and to contribute to the public good of improved impact evaluation research practices.
3ie is committed to encouraging open and constructive dialogue between replication researchers and original authors. To support this goal, we have created the 3ie replication programme notification and communication policy. We would like to thank everyone who helped strengthen this policy through their comments and suggestions. It is a living document that we update as appropriate.
For more information, read Quality evidence for policymaking: I’ll believe it when I see the replication, 3ie Replication Paper 1