VAW Social Change Resource Center

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VAW:  Questions of Research


How do we know what we know?  How do we know the truth?

      In Western culture we build knowledge through a clearly defined process called science.  Scientists follow specific methods to claim that truth is fact-based, objective, and universal.  Most science depends on accurately documenting what can be seen  – a physical act, a hit, a gun, a penetration. 

We support activists building the basic skills needed

to evaluate scientific research!


We support informed participation in research projects.

      Debates about domestic violence are often linked to debates about the science itself.  It is a question of whether our lives and relationships are more complex than science can explain.  To explain violence against women we have to understand what it is to be violated.  We have to understand how fear, shame, and guilt penetrate our souls.  These are not the questions science asks.


We celebrate other ways of knowing

and other ways to explain our experience.

Basic Skills

Research Terms/Phrases    

How to read research/what to look for


             Evaluating Violence Against Women Research Reports

Sandra Beeman helps us decide if we can believe research results by asking five basic questions.

VAWnet article, 2002.


                Interpreting Research Studies

Key questions to ask as you read social science research.  Jennifer Nadeau and Sharon Camp

with the Guttmacher Institute, 2006.


             Understanding Scientific Journal Articles

Very brief handout on basic tips for advocates and practitioners when  reading research summaries. University of Kentucky, 2006.


How to avoid using bad statistics

Indefensible statistics

Ways of Knowing


Summary of Women’s Ways of Knowing

Mary Belenky, Blythe Clinchy, Nancy Goldberger, and Jill Tarulet define each of the 5 stages of

knowing studied in their classic book. 1997




             Knowing a Society from Within: A Woman's Standpoint 

Dorothy Smith argues that you can only know the world from within your own experience of it. 

Excerpt from Conceptual Practices of Power: A Feminist sociology of Knowledge, 1990.   


             Learning from the Outsider Within

Patricia Hill-Collins argues that Black feminists have used their marginalized positions to reflect

on sociology.  That standpoint includes interconnectedness of oppressions. Abstract, 1986

(scroll down)


             The Everyday World as Problematic

Very basic introduction to the work of Dorothy Smith.  Chapter Two includes ‘lines of fault’ as a

rupture of experience, and how women are outside of knowledge production. 1987


             What is Participatory Feminism?

Video of presentation by Patricia Macguire includes creating spaces for the marginalized,

pedagogy of the privileged, power and knowledge. 2006


Introductions to (Perhaps) Unfamiliar Methods


             An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research

Rory O’Brien offers a very thorough overview of Action Research: process, principles, ethics,

tools, fit with other research paradigms.  1998


             Doing Participatory Research: A feminist approach

Patricia Macguire’s groundbreaking challenge to traditional systems of knowledge production. 

In her study, battered women were co-researchers.  Abstract, 1987


             Facilitating Reflection and Action Through Research    

Reflections on self, relational identity, and movement through the research process.  Paper by

Adrienne Chan, 1998


             Feminist, Writing, and Ghosts 

Postmodern method to discover who is missing, who are the ghosts in the picture.  Abstract of

Avery Gordon's method, 1990.  (scroll down)


             If Research were Sacred—An Organic Methodology 

Organic inquiry as a qualitative method intersecting feminine spirituality and transpersonal

psychology.  Book excerpt and bibliography.       


             The genealogical method of Nietzsche and Foucault

Ajani Mgo provides a brief overview of this method used in philosophy and sociology to trace

relations of knowledge to power. 


What is Grounded Theory?

A theory that emerges inductively from data through conceptual coding.  Bibliography. 1995

Informed Participation

Contracting researchers


Recommendations for establishing and maintaining successful researcher-practitioner collaborations

How to assess the qualifications of the researcher, ethics, safety, and list of published articles on

VAW collaborations.  From the National VAW Prevention Research Center 2001.


What to ask for before you agree to participate in research


Reasonable expectations of researchers


             Forced Bonding or Community Collaboration? 

Summary of collaborative research and lessons from 4 sites.  Partnerships between science and

practice in research on woman battering by Jeffrey Edleson and Andrea Bible of Mincava, 1998.


Safety for women who have been battered


             Putting Women First

                          Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Research on VAW.  World Health Organization, 2001.


Social Change Researchers

Activist Research Group

Activist Research Agenda

Examples of accountability in research

Current Debates

Countering Confusion about the Duluth Model

Domestic Abuse Intervention Program's response to controversy over effectiveness of Batterer Intervention Projects.   (Listed in box on the left side of the page.)


             Measuring the Extent of Woman Abuse in Intimate Heterosexual Relationships

Analysis of the Conflict Tactics Scale as an effective measure of woman abuse.  VAWnet

document, 1998.

Social Change Resource Center © 2007,  Afterwords, Inc.



Introduction to Social Change

Reflections on Social Change

  Cultural Supports

  Oppression & Privilege

  Questions of Research


Strategies for Action

  Activist Writings



Domestic Violence


  Power & Control Tools