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Do randomised control trials offer a solution to 'low quality' transport research?

Melia, Steve


Steven Melia
Senior Lecturer in Transport Planning


This article responds to Graham-Rowe et al. (2011), which categorised 77 evaluations of transport interventions into 5 levels of ‘quality’. This article focuses on Graham-Rowe et al.’s treatment of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and their recommendation, also made by others, that RCTs should be used ‘wherever possible’ in transport research. It analyses the RCTs reviewed by Graham-Rowe et al. and the hierarchy of research methods they use. It proposes 5 criteria for the valid application of RCTs, which it argues would imply that the circumstances in transport studies where RCTs are demonstrably superior to other methods are very limited. It finds no valid justification for a hierarchy of methods and argues that attempting to apply such a hierarchy would generate misleading advice for policy makers.


Melia, S. (2015, January). Do randomised control trials offer a solution to 'low quality' transport research?. Paper presented at 47th Annual UTSG Conference

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 47th Annual UTSG Conference
Start Date Jan 5, 2015
End Date Jan 7, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Transportation Research Part A
Print ISSN 0965-8564
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords randomised control trials, voluntary travel behaviour change, modal shift, research methodology
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : 47th Annual UTSG Conference


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