VAW Social Change Resource Center
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.
How to read research/what to look for
Sandra Beeman helps us decide if we can believe research results by asking five basic questions.
VAWnet article, 2002.
Key questions to ask as you read social science research. Jennifer Nadeau and Sharon Camp
with the Guttmacher Institute, 2006.
Very brief handout on basic tips for advocates and practitioners when reading research summaries. University of Kentucky, 2006.
How to avoid using bad statistics
Mary Belenky, Blythe Clinchy, Nancy Goldberger, and Jill Tarulet define each of the 5 stages of
knowing studied in their classic book. 1997
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.
Patricia Hill-Collins argues that Black feminists have used their marginalized positions to reflect
on sociology. That standpoint includes interconnectedness of oppressions. Abstract, 1986
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
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
Rory O’Brien offers a very thorough overview of Action Research: process, principles, ethics,
tools, fit with other research paradigms. 1998
Patricia Macguire’s groundbreaking challenge to traditional systems of knowledge production.
In her study, battered women were co-researchers. Abstract, 1987
Reflections on self, relational identity, and movement through the research process. Paper by
Adrienne Chan, 1998
Postmodern method to discover who is missing, who are the ghosts in the picture. Abstract of
Avery Gordon's method, 1990. (scroll down)
Organic inquiry as a qualitative method intersecting feminine spirituality and transpersonal
psychology. Book excerpt and bibliography.
Ajani Mgo provides a brief overview of this method used in philosophy and sociology to trace
relations of knowledge to power.
A theory that emerges inductively from data through conceptual coding. Bibliography. 1995
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
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
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
Domestic Abuse Intervention Program's response to controversy over effectiveness of Batterer Intervention Projects. (Listed in box on the left side of the page.)
Analysis of the Conflict Tactics Scale as an effective measure of woman abuse. VAWnet
Social Change Resource Center © 2007, Afterwords, Inc.