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All research on violence against women (VAW) and violence against children (VAC) must be conducted in accordance with the highest ethical and safety standards. VAW and VAC are sensitive topics and undertaking research in these areas pose some unique methodological and ethical challenges, including issues of safety; confidentiality; and researcher skill and training. Researchers who want to better understand VAW and VAC must do so with a comprehensive understanding of the ethical issues involved.

This page is a resource for researchers in all our diversity; research ethics committees or ethical review boards; advocacy groups; community ombudsman; community structures and all people involved in VAW and VAC research either as data collectors, translators and transcribers, interpreters, data entry staff, funders and others.

SVRI’s commitment to high quality research in epidemics and pandemics

SVRI adheres to the ‘Funder principles for supporting high-quality research for the most pressing global needs in epidemics and pandemics’ developed by UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). The principles were launched on the 17th July 2020 in The LANCET ‘Strengthening the global effort on COVID-19 research through joint principles for funding global research in epidemics and pandemics.

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Burner-Fritsch, I., & Schwertel, T. (2023). Of Newcomers and Supervisors: Ethical Issues in Supervising Newcomers in Qualitative Health Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 22, 160940692311711. https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069231171105
Bredal, A., Stefansen, K., & Bjørnholt, M. (2022). Why do people participate in research interviews? Participant orientations and ethical contracts in interviews with victims of interpersonal violence. Qualitative Research, 146879412211384. https://doi.org/10.1177/14687941221138409
Bhatia, A., Turner, E., Akim, A., Mirembe, A., Nakuti, J., Parkes, J., Datzberger, S., Nagawa, R., Kung’u, M., Babu, H., Kabuti, R., Kimani, J., Beattie, T. S., d’Oliveira, A. F., Rishal, P., Nyakuwa, R., Bell, S., Bukuluki, P., Cislaghi, B., … Devries, K. (2022). Remote methods for research on violence against women and children: lessons and challenges from research during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMJ Global Health, 7(11), e008460. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2022-008460
Anderson, K. M., Karris, M. Y., DeSoto, A. F., Carr, S. G., & Stockman, J. K. (2022). Engagement of Sexual Violence Survivors in Research: Trauma-Informed Research in the THRIVE Study. Violence Against Women, 10778012221125500. https://doi.org/10.1177/10778012221125501
Weber, S., Hardiman, M., Kanja, W., Thomas, S., Robinson-Edwards, N., & Bradbury-Jones, C. (2022). Towards Ethical International Research Partnerships in Gender-Based Violence Research: Insights From Research Partners in Kenya. Violence Against Women, 28(11), 2909–2931. https://doi.org/10.1177/10778012211035798
Peterman, A., Devries, K., Guedes, A., Chandan, J. S., Minhas, S., Hui Lim, R. Q., Gennari, F., & Bhatia, A. (2022). Ethical reporting of research on violence against women and children during COVID-19: Analysis of 75 studies and recommendations for future guidelines. MedRxiv, 2022.11.15.22282363. https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.11.15.22282363
Seff, I., Vahedi, L., McNelly, S., Kormawa, E., & Stark, L. (2021). Remote evaluations of violence against women and girls interventions: a rapid scoping review of tools, ethics and safety. BMJ Global Health, 6(9), e006780. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-006780
Navarro-Mantas, L., & Ozemela, L. M.-G. (2021). Violence Against the Indigenous Women: Methodological and Ethical Recommendations for Research. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(13–14), NP7298–NP7318. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260519825879
Jefferson, K., Stanhope, K. K., Jones-Harrell, C., Vester, A., Tyano, E., & Hall, C. D. X. (2021). A scoping review of recommendations in the English language on conducting research with trauma-exposed populations since publication of the Belmont report; thematic review of existing recommendations on research with trauma-exposed populations. PloS One, 16(7), e0254003. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254003
Majlis Project, & IDRC. (2021). Researching sexual violence: Ethical concerns (slideshow). Majlis. https://www.svri.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2021-03-16/EthicsMajlisProjectIDRC.pdf
Ako, T., Plugge, E., Mhlanga-Gunda, R., & Van Hout, M. C. (2020). Ethical guidance for health research in prisons in low- and middle-income countries: a scoping review. Public Health, 186, 217–227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2020.07.008
Raising Voices, & SVRI. (2020). Learning together: A guide for feminist practice in violence against women and girls research collaborations. Raising Voices. https://www.svri.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2020-10-08/Learning%20together%20brief.pdf
UNICEF. (2020). Research on violence against children during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Guidance to inform ethical data collection and evidence generation. UNICEF. https://data.unicef.org/resources/research-on-violence-against-children-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-guidance/
Dawson, A., Lignou, S., Siriwardhana, C., & O’Mathúna, D. P. (2019). Why research ethics should add retrospective review. BMC Medical Ethics, 20(1), 68. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-019-0399-1
McGrath, C., Palmgren, P. J., & Liljedahl, M. (2019). Twelve tips for conducting qualitative research interviews. Medical Teacher, 41(9), 1002–1006. https://doi.org/10.1080/0142159X.2018.1497149
van der Heijden, I., Harries, J., & Abrahams, N. (2019). Ethical considerations for disability-inclusive gender-based violence research: Reflections from a South African qualitative case study. Global Public Health, 14(5), 737–749. https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2018.1542015
Campbell, R., Goodman-Williams, R., & Javorka, M. (2019). A Trauma-Informed Approach to Sexual Violence Research Ethics and Open Science. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 34(23–24), 4765–4793. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260519871530
Kyegombe, N., Banks, L. M., Kelly, S., Kuper, H., & Devries, K. M. (2019). How to conduct good quality research on violence against children with disabilities: key ethical, measurement, and research principles. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 1133. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7456-z
Mannell, J., & Guta, A. (2018). The ethics of researching intimate partner violence in global health: A case study from global health research. Global Public Health, 13(8), 1035–1049. https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2017.1293126
McCartan, K. F., Merdian, H. L., Perkins, D. E., & Kettleborough, D. (2018). Ethics and Issues of Secondary Prevention Efforts in Child Sexual Abuse. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 62(9), 2548–2566. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X17723951
Hibbin, R. A., Samuel, G., & Derrick, G. E. (2018). From “a Fair Game” to “a Form of Covert Research”: Research Ethics Committee Members’ Differing Notions of Consent and Potential Risk to Participants Within Social Media Research. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 13(2), 149–159. https://doi.org/10.1177/1556264617751510
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Ellsberg, M., & Potts, A. (2018). Ethical considerations for research and evaluation on ending violence against women and girls. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. https://www.dfat.gov.au/sites/default/files/ode-evawg-ethical-considerations-for-research-and-eval.pdf
Bender, A. K. (2017). Ethics, Methods, and Measures in Intimate Partner Violence Research: The Current State of the Field. Violence Against Women, 23(11), 1382–1413. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801216658977
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Bennouna, C., Mansourian, H., & Stark, L. (2017). Ethical considerations for children’s participation in data collection activities during humanitarian emergencies: A Delphi review. Conflict and Health, 11, 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13031-017-0108-y
Fraga, S. (2016). Methodological and ethical challenges in violence research. Porto Biomedical Journal, 1(2), 77–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbj.2016.04.005
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Coughlin, S. S., Lewis, S. R., & Smith, S. A. (2016). Ethical and Social Issues in Health Research Involving Incarcerated People. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 27(2A), 18–28. https://doi.org/10.1353/hpu.2016.0053
Devries, K. M., Child, J. C., Elbourne, D., Naker, D., & Heise, L. (2015). “I never expected that it would happen, coming to ask me such questions”:Ethical aspects of asking children about violence in resource poor settings. Trials, 16, 516. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-015-1004-7
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Zielinski, C., Kebede, D., Mbondji, P. E., Sanou, I., Kouvividila, W., & Lusamba-Dikassa, P.-S. (2014). Research ethics policies and practices in health research institutions in sub-Saharan African countries: results of a questionnaire-based survey. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 107(1 suppl), 70–76. https://doi.org/10.1177/0141076813517679
Grimley-Baker, K. (2014). Ethical Implications of Mandatory Reporting of Intimate Partner Violence. Creative Nursing, 20(4), 254–257. https://doi.org/10.1891/1078-4535.20.4.254
Hames, I. (2013). COPE Ethical Guidelines for Peer Reviewers. COPE Council. https://publicationethics.org/files/Ethical_guidelines_for_peer_reviewers_0.pdf
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Morris, A., Hegarty, K., & Humphreys, C. (2012). Ethical and safe: Research with children about domestic violence. Research Ethics, 8(2), 125–139. https://doi.org/10.1177/1747016112445420
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