This blog entry from the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation talks about the deficiency in many research proposals sent to that organization. They rely too much on standardized effect sizes, which are impossible to interpret and often misleading. The authors also criticize the Intraclass Correlation Coefficients (ICCs) that are included in the sample size justification for many cluster based or hierarchical research designs. The ICCs, they say, often seem to be pulled out of thin air. It is a hard number to get sometimes and they suggest that you consider a range of ICCs in your calculations or that you run a pilot study.
Benjamin DK Wood and Eric Djimeu, Requiring fuel gauges: A pitch for justifying impact evaluation sample size assumptions. Evidence Matters blog. October 17, 2014. Available at http://blogs.3ieimpact.org/requiring-fuel-gauges-a-pitch-for-justifying-impact-evaluation-sample-size-assumptions/