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A typical impact evaluation team includes: Principal Investigator(s), Field Coordinator(s), and Research Assistant(s). There also is generally an IE coordinator who helps liaise between the research team and the field team.
Principal Investigators (PIs)
The Principal Investigator (PI) is the lead researcher for the impact evaluation, responsible for leading the Impact Evaluation Design, Data Analysis and the final academic paper. S/he is also responsible for the operation of the larger research team, and the designation of operational roles and responsibilities therein. There are often multiple PIs working on a given project. They may or may not be from a single institution or working in a given sector. Given the complexity of most IEs, the multiple institutions and cross-sectoral approach of a team of PIs can often be a strength. DIME Economists almost always work with at least one co-PI from an external academic institution, and often with other members of the Bank's research group.
Field Coordinators (FCs)
The Field Coordinator (FC) is the person responsible for managing the impact evaluation in the country where it is taking place. This individual is based in the field full-time or close to full-time. S/he works towards operationalizing research questions (crafted primarily by PIs) and research designs into operationally relevant implementation strategies. Field Coordinators are also known as Field Research Assistants or Project Coordinators, depending on the research institution.
The Field Coordinator (FC) is typically responsible for:
- Liaising with the project implementation team, and related government counterparts. This includes facilitating meetings, updating the team on all impact evaluation related activities and supporting the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) staff.
- Monitoring project implementation and updating the research team on any changes or threats to the research design.
- Supervising all data collection in the field and serving as focal point for communication with the survey firm. This includes supervising enumerator training, working with the survey firm on drafting enumerator manual(s), planning field mobilization, updating enumerators on backchecking incoming data and so on. For more information, look at Preparing for Data Collection, Monitoring Data Quality, Data Management, and so on.
- Ensuring that the implementation team is in the loop on all IE activities, and seeking out ways in which the IE can support implementation at-large
Research Assistants (RAs)
Impact evaluation teams typically include a research assistant (RA), based in the same location as the PI. The RA is primarily responsible for Data Management, Data Cleaning, and Data Analysis. In some cases, the FC and RA roles are combined and performed by the FC. Given how much the FC's work involves on-ground liaising, it is rare for a successful IE to have just an RA, and not an FC.
RAs are the most familiar with the survey data and are the point person for the research team on variable cleaning and construction. RAs work with data from the point of collection through to academic publication, and should have the software and econometric skills that this work demands.
Impact Evaluation Coordinator
The IE Coordinator is primarily responsible for hiring, supervising, and providing technical support to the RA and FC, and administrative issues (such as grant reporting and procurement). IE Coordinators are also known as Research Managers, Research Coordinators or Research Analysts depending on the research institution.
Most likely, the IE coordinator is an experienced FC or RA, who has worked on more IEs in the past. This person should have the fieldwork and data skills that enable her/him to be a point-person who can provide advice and guidance to the project's FC and RA. The IE Coordinator may or may not be one of the PIs on a given project, depending on how much s/he contributes to research design and fundraising.