Rigged or rigorous? Partnerships for research and evaluation of complex social problems: Lessons from the field of violence against women and girls

Cathy Zimmerman, Lori Michau, Mazeda Hossain, Ligia Kiss, Rosilyne Borland and Charlotte Watts Journal of Public Health Policy, 2017; Access the online article

There is a growing demand for robust evidence to address complex social phenomena such as violence against women and girls (VAWG). Research partnerships between scientists and non-governmental or international organisations (NGO/IO) are increasingly popular bur can pose challenges, including concerns about potential conflicts of interest.

This paper draws on the authors' experiences collaborating on VAWG research, and presents the challenges and contributions that NGO/IO and academic parters can make at different stages of the research process and the effects that collaborations can have on scientific enquiry. 

"Our experience suggests that when investigating multi-faceted social problems, instead of ‘rigging’ study results, research collaborations can strengthen scientific rigor and offer the greatest potential for impact in the communities we seek to serve."


Professor Charlotte Watts delivered the fourth Howard White lecture on this topic at an event hosted by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, 3ie. Watch a recording of that presentation here.

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