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The Art Of Writing Effective Research Abstracts And Conducting Literature Reviews (1)

On June 13, 2024, the SVRI hosted a webinar featuring Professor Rachel Jewkes, Executive Scientist for Research Strategy at the SAMRC and a founding member of the SVRI. The session focused on writing effective research abstracts and conducting reviews of literature. Approximately 190 participants from various countries across the world joined the webinar, aimed at providing key resources to craft strong proposals for the SVRI Research Grant 2025. 

Prof. Rachel Jewkes shared invaluable tips on creating a compelling proposal, including making your proposal presentable and readable, structuring background information, reviewing the literature, and writing a concise yet comprehensive abstract. 

General Tips for Writing a Winning Proposal 

Before you start writing, consider the person who is going to read your proposal. The reviewer knows nothing about you. Therefore, your proposal also serves as a presentation of you as a researcher. Mainly, you should demonstrate the following: 

  • Adherence to SVRI principles: Your proposal should reflect sensitivity towards VAW/VAC and an understanding that gender-based violence is rooted in gender disparities and a patriarchal society. 
  • Competence: While SVRI supports emerging researchers and aims to provide capacity building, you must show that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to conduct research on VAW/VAC. This can be done through a well-documented literature review and appropriate referencing. 
  • Innovation: Highlight new and relevant research ideas. Explain how your study will expand knowledge in the field and its potential implications. Justify why your research needs funding. 

Making Your Proposal Presentable and Readable 

A key aspect of your proposal is its presentation. To ensure it is easy to read and well-organized, you should:  

  • Use an easy-to-read font (11-12pt). 
  • Include subheadings for easy navigation. 
  • Avoid repeating content in different sections. 
  • Be concise; use fewer characters if possible. 
  • Reference all major statements to avoid plagiarism. 
  • Check spelling and grammar before submission. AI tools like Grammarly or ChatGPT can help with this, but do not use them to write your proposal. 
  • Add a provisional title with your research location, methods, and main topic, acknowledging its temporary. 

Structuring Background Information 

The background section (around 1.5 pages or 6 paragraphs) should clearly outline what is known about your research topic, offer insight into the broader area of research, summarize key existing literature, address research gaps, and justify the need for further research. 

  • Paragraph 1: State the overarching problem, the policy/service context and how this is linked to your research, the research location, and the need for research. 
  • Paragraphs 2-4: Discuss what is known about the problem (definitions, prevalence, risk factors, drivers, consequences) and the complexities that make your study important. If any, highlight any previous research your team has conducted and why this should be expanded. 
  • Paragraph 5: Provide information from international literature, focusing on where else the problem is prevalent, what has been learned from other research, what are the global gaps, and what policies have been effectively implemented. 
  • Paragraph 6: Summarize the previous paragraphs and conclude with a statement describing the need for your research. 

Conducting a Literature Review 

Reviewing existing literature can be complex and overwhelming due to a large number of studies. However, there is no need to mention all the existing literature, but the most relevant one. Some tips shared by Prof. Jewkes include: 

  • Identify what is that you want to know with the literature review. 
  • Use search engines like PubMed or Google Scholar. 
  • Narrow down your research topic. 
  • Choose keywords carefully. 
  • Include at least one reference per point, but demonstrate you read more than one paper. 
  • Focus on highly cited work to support general points. 

Key Tip: Include a theory of change in your aims and objectives to explain how your research can lead to changes in interventions. 

Writing a Concise Abstract

A well-written abstract (around 500 words) can significantly enhance your chances of securing funding. Write your abstract at the end to include the most up-to-date information. It should include:  

  • A brief statement of the problem and why it needs to be addressed, summarizing the literature review and how the research will be useful for the field based on previous knowledge from survivors or practitioners. You don’t need to explain common knowledge. 
  • The research gaps the study will fill, in a concise “elevator pitch.” 
  • Objectives and goals, summarized in one sentence each. 
  • Methodology, detailing how you will conduct the research and the methods used. 
  • Expected results and how they will impact the field. Include a dissemination strategy with local or national stakeholders and explain how your research will support interventions. 

You can also watch the webinar recording here.

We wish you the best of luck with your proposal for the SVRI Research Grant 2025. The application portal closes on July 9th. If you have any questions, please contact SVRI at []. 

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