ACE constantly seeks to conduct research to ground our evaluations of charities and interventions in empirical findings. If you are interested in helping with a current or planned research study, please contact us. We are especially happy to hear from professional researchers and organizations engaged in the activities we are currently studying. This page lists highlights of our planned and completed research, beyond the charity evaluations we conduct annually. More details about our goals for 2017 and our strategic plan are also available here.
Highlights for 2017
Intervention report restructuring: We will update our intervention report templates and evaluation process to retain the aspects of the evaluation process that we have found most useful while reducing time spent on areas that have not contributed substantially to our conclusions in past reports. Our new process will also engage more with other literature on evaluation, helping us take advantage of insights made in other fields.
Leafleting report: We will update our report on the use of leafleting by animal advocacy organizations. After conducting interviews and reviewing additional data, we will summarize our findings using our intervention report template. This will bring our intervention report on leafleting up to date with our other intervention reports.
Protests report: We will conduct interviews and literature reviews related to protests and prepare an intervention report on the subject. Our report will likely focus primarily on campaigns by animal advocates that use protests as a primary tool to effect change, rather than campaigns which use occasional protests in support of other tactics.
Updates to charity evaluation process: Before beginning our charity evaluation process for 2017, we will review our methodology and criteria to identify any areas where we can make the evaluation process more effective. In particular, we will look for ways to make our assessments of qualitative factors such as leadership and organizational structure more evidence-based and replicable.
Animal Advocacy Research Fund: We are currently completing the evaluation process for the second funding round of the Animal Advocacy Research Fund. We anticipate hosting two additional funding rounds this year.
Past Research Highlights
Online ads report: We updated our report on online ads to reflect new evidence and bring our evaluation in line with the process and standards of other recent intervention reports. We drew upon evidence from conversations with advocates who run online ads, our general knowledge of activism and social psychology, and reviews of relevant literature to prepare the report. We concluded that ads seem to have limited long-term and indirect benefits—which is likely where a majority of the potential impact lies in animal advocacy—and that other programs are more promising at this time. However, if interventions with higher long-term impacts became more difficult to implement, expanding online ads programs or other forms of dietary change outreach might be justified as the most cost-effective intervention for short term impact.
New research review process: We implemented a formal plan for both internal and external review of our research products. Internally, the plan calls for a primary critic to be added to the team responsible for each project. The primary critic will serve the role of coordinating criticism and ensuring that it is responded to appropriately. Externally, we’re maintaining a list of volunteer reviewers who are willing to review content in their areas of interest or expertise and provide substantive critique prior to publication.
Animal Advocacy Research Fund: This past fall, we completed the first funding round of the Animal Advocacy Research Fund, and offered funding for seven proposals. We are currently completing the evaluation process for the second funding round.
Animal Advocacy Data Repository: This is an online resource for researchers and organizations who study animal advocacy to post or cross-post their data, results, and other research outputs they want to make publicly available (such as study materials, hypothesis pre-registrations, and analysis plans). This is a project of the Animal Advocacy Research Fund.
Research Collaboration Directory: This resource is intended to help connect researchers with mutual interests or complementary skills, and establish partnerships between academics and animal advocates. This is a project of the Animal Advocacy Research Fund.
Cause prioritization project: We considered prioritization among animal causes in detail and wrote up our conclusions. This provided a check on the intuitions and shallow analysis we previously used to compare causes, and should allow our audience to better understand the overall priorities that guide our work.
Undercover investigations report: We researched undercover investigations, open rescues, and related activities conducted by animal advocacy organizations. After conducting interviews with advocates engaged in investigations and reviewing the outcomes of various programs, we summarized our findings using our intervention report template, with a focus on undercover investigations (since this is the type of investigation which is most common among organizations we evaluate). We believe that undercover investigations have had significant direct effects in reducing farm animal suffering through corporate policy change. We think they may also have effects on consumption choices and some long-term outcomes—such as increasing the likelihood of future corporate policy change—although the size of long-term effects is much more uncertain.
Corporate outreach report: After conducting interviews with advocates engaged in corporate outreach and reviewing the outcomes of various programs, we summarized our findings using our intervention report template. We found that corporate outreach has had significant short-term effects in reducing farm animal suffering and is highly efficient in achieving this goal. However, because it can act to reduce the perception that animals suffer in the production of certain products, we weren’t certain about its long-term effects.
Leafleting study: This study analyzed the medium-term dietary effects of receiving a leaflet about factory farming and diet change as compared to the effects of receiving a leaflet about companion animals or of not receiving a leaflet. We found an effect on the probability that a participant would give up red meat or poultry entirely, but were unable to detect an effect on the overall meat consumption of the sample population.
Humane education study: This study analyzed the medium-term dietary effects of viewing an in-class humane education presentation on factory farming. We employed a control group of students at the same schools who did not see the lecture because enrollment in the class that receives the lecture is taken to be uncorrelated to relevant attitudes before the lecture. We did not find statistically significant effects of the presentations on diet.