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What is already known about this subject?

Last edited: December 20, 2019

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Decisions on research design or data collection methods should only be made after deciding on what you want to know, also known as the research objective. The objectives of the study will determine the research design and methodology. 


What is already known about this subject?

Before developing the research questions and objectives, we need to have an understanding about what is already known about the topic. Answers to some research topics may already exist and may not require additional primary data collection. Therefore, it is important to conduct a literature review as well as consult local groups that are operational in the area (including local women’s organizations) to see what evidence already exists (either in peer-review literature or in grey literature such as NGO or UN reports) and look at existing data collection systems within the affected community.


Conduct consultations with others working in the field to determine if similar research or studies have already been undertaken or are underway. In the case of larger questions that routine M&E systems may not be able to answer, consultations to discuss your objectives with local and international GBV experts working in conflict or post-conflict settings can be beneficial. Such conversations can help garner support and buy-in for your research and help you understand whether the knowledge generated will benefit other organizations.


Be realistic about the most critical data that needs to be collected through data collection efforts. Often, data can be collected through research, monitoring or evaluation activities within your setting. Limited time, resources and budget will also influence the amount of quality data collection activities. Once you have a clearer picture of the existing context, you can determine whether your research will add value to the field.