Wilcox, Aidan and Hoyle, Carolyn (2005) Are randomised controlled trials really the 'Gold Standard' in restorative justice research. British Journal of Criminal Justice, 3 (2). pp. 39-49. ISSN 1475-0279

The rise of the evidence-based approach has influenced how criminological research is
conducted in Britain. Funding bodies increasingly specify a quantitative research design as
the most appropriate way to determine ‘what works’. Indeed, there is a growing tendency
to regard the randomised control trial (RCT) as the ‘gold standard’ for such studies. In this
article, restorative justice research is used as an example of the pitfalls of relying on a
purely quantitative paradigm. By ignoring issues of programme integrity and context,
RCTs often produce contradictory or inconclusive results. The article concludes that the
artificial divide often imposed on researchers between qualitative and empirical
approaches is unhelpful, and that research into restorative justice (and other areas) would
gain from the integration of an in-depth, qualitative component within the experimental

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