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Evaluating Violence Against Women Research Reports

NRCDV Publications
General Material
Published Date
March, 2002

Research on violence against women can provide individuals and organizations working to end violence against women with information that helps improve services to battered women and their families; develop programs based on sound research knowledge; and contribute to the development of public policies that support battered women and their families. Being a knowledgeable, critical consumer of research is important.

  • What to read and where to find it: Not all research is created equal - either in its scientific quality or its practical value. The informed consumer of research should pay attention to the professional background and ideological perspective of the researcher, the funder or sponsor of the research, and the publisher of the research to help determine the credibility of the findings.
  • Quantitative and qualitative research: Quantitative research usually seeks to generalize findings beyond the study at hand. Qualitative research usually seeks to understand a particular sample of individuals or to generate new theories.
  • Five basic questions guide the critical analysis of research reports:
    What is the study about? The statement of purpose should provide enough information to help us determine if we are interested in reading the entire study.
    How does the study fit into what is already known? The literature review should help us determine the relevance of the study, whether it provides new knowledge and how it contributes to what we know and don't know about the topic.
    How was the study done? Who were the sample participants and how were they selected for the study? How are they the same or different than individuals served by our programs? How were key study concepts defined? Do they fit with our program's definition of those concepts? Does the study design fit the purpose of the study? Do the data collection methods used allow the researcher(s) to answer their research question(s)? Were appropriate data analysis procedures used?
    What was found? Were the research questions answered with the data? If inferential statistics were used, were the findings significant? Does the qualitative data provide credible answers to the research questions?
    What does it mean? In this section, the researcher 'makes sense' of their findings and present their interpretation of the results. Are the conclusions grounded in the data presented? Are the limitations of the study discussed? Do the findings have practical application?
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