Research integrity framework launched by the four Women’s Aid federations

On the 30th November 2020, the four Women’s Aid federations from Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland published a framework to show the quality of research on domestic abuse. Developed with and endorsed by academic researchers, this framework provides decision-makers with clarity on the merits of different types of evidence and research, and the principles of integrity relating to research on domestic abuse.

The framework brings together the knowledge and experience of both academic and NGO partners, drawing on feminist research practice since the 1970s. Going back 50 years, the four federations emerged from the women’s liberation movement and were largely survivor-led. Each federation has engaged, over recent decades, in context- specific research to transform policy, services, and the lives of women and children across the United Kingdom. 

This framework recognises that those engaged in collaborative research and evaluation have a responsibility to nurture sound, ethical research and to discourage research practice that is unethical or misrepresents itself and/or victims-survivors’ experiences. 

The framework sets out the critical importance of grounding research on domestic abuse within the wider field of violence against women and girlstaking an intersectional approach and ensuring that research focusing on minoritised groups should be carried out by researchers from organisations led by those groups.The four Women’s Aid federations want researchers, organisations, journals, national and local policymakers, and commissioners to sign up to the five pillars set out in this framework.  

  • Safety and wellbeing 
  • Transparency/accountability 
  • Equality, human rights, and social justice 
  • Engagement 
  • Research ethics 

If you wish to endorse this RIF DVA then please contact

“It is vital that research on domestic abuse is carried out with integrity. This means ensuring diverse survivors – and the organisations that represent them – are meaningfully and safely engaged with.”


Dr Emma Williamson, who developed the Research Integrity Framework along with Professor John Delaney and the four federations, writes about the principles behind it, and the goals of the project.

The Research Integrity Framework was written by the women of the four federations, Dr Emma Williamson (Reader in Gender Based Violence, Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol) and Professor John Devaney (Centenary Chair and Head of Social Work, University of Edinburgh), together with an academic development team including Dr. Maria Pentaraki [i], Professor Nicky Stanley [ii], Professor Chérie Armour [iii], Dr Claire Houghton [iv], Dr Nancy Lombard [v]. The framework was reviewed by Imkaan, Respect, the Children’s Commissioner in Northern Ireland and Dr Ravi Thiara, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick.
[i] Lecturer in Social Work, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast.

[ii] Co-Director, Connect Centre for International Research on Interpersonal Violence and Harm, University of Central Lancashire.

[iii] Professor of Psychological Trauma & Mental Health, School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast.

[iv] Lecturer in Social Policy and Qualitative Research, University of Edinburgh.

[v] Reader in Sociology and Social Policy, Department of Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University.

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