Research Portfolio Post 6: Quantitative Data Sources

As per Booth et al.’s formulation, I am proposing to research the post-conflict recovery process for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence because I want to find out why, despite many attempts across the world and the use of international legislation, many people do not receive the aid they need to recover, in order to help my reader understand the obstacles that survivors face and to adequately offer the treatment and services that they need.[1]

The question I pose is: What explains variation in the outcome of the recovery process for victims of conflict-related sexual violence?

With this question in mind, the dataset that I am discussing is the 2018 Women, Business and the Law Report produced by the World Bank.[2] Since 2009, the World Bank has annually produced a report on the state of gender equality in the eyes of the law. It organises the data into 7 main categories: “accessing institutions, using property, going to court, providing incentives to work, building credit, getting a job, [and] protecting women from violence.” With data collected from 189 countries, the dataset provides a number of questions for each category with most of them being “yes/no” answers. Additionally, it provides the income level and the region of the country.

I intend to use a nominal scale to measure the dataset as most of the data in the collection is a yes or no statement, with a few of the indicators having numerical interval data. With regards to my research, the dependent variable would be the outcome of the recovery process, and whether it was a success or a failure. The various independent variables that I intend on using are the indicators put forward by the dataset itself but also add more variables that relate directly to the conflict aspect of my research, and look at variables like:

  • Whether or not there was a conflict in the region?
  • If there was a conflict, were there any recorded cases of conflict-related sexual violence against civilians?
  • Post-conflict, were there any commissions set up to help survivors achieve judicial justice?

The benefits of this dataset are mainly that the report encompasses a vast range of countries and there appears to be very clear data for all of those countries under every indicator. However, the limitation that appears with this data set is that since it does not necessarily relate directly to my topic, there is very little information that I could truly cull out of it – which may make the dataset very limited for my research.

[1]Booth, Wayne; Colomb, Gregory; Williams, Joseph; Bizup, Joseph and Fitzgerald, William. “The Craft of Research, 4thedition. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 54.

[2]World Bank Group. “Women, Business and the Law 2018.” (Washington DC: The World Bank, 2018). October 8, 2019).


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  1. Hi Paroma,

    I like the questions and variables which you have raised. I think you can very easily pair this with other databases to also get quantitative values to make the maths easier for you. For example, you could look for monetary data points like how much a state puts toward aid to survivors of sexual crimes as well as asking about the actual numbers of victims that there were. Bringing up the war discussion, you could see if different types of conflicts lead to greater or less amounts of sexual violence. Looking into Bosnia and Rwanda might be a good avenue for you.
    Best of Luck,

  2. Paroma — the data source that you discuss here gives you a good start in conceptualizing your project for the large-n statistical methodology. Remember, though, that operationalizing your dependent variable as an interval/ratio indicator. How could you think about your DV of “outcome” in a more precise sense than just success/failure? What data would tell you that something was a success or failure? Might some of that data in fact be interval/ratio (e.g. rates of something or proportions/ratios)? Tristan’s suggestion of examining expenditures might be a good one to consider in this regard.

    As you continue your work, note as well that there is a slight tension between the research puzzle you articulate and your research question. In your puzzle statement you note that you intend to explain “why…many people do not receive the aid they need to recover…” suggesting, in turn, that your DV would be something like the “provision of aid” (which could be operationalized by the number of initiatives or policies put in place, expenditures on recovery aid, etc.). That is a different outcome and different DV than success/failure for the victim. This tension is OK for now, but eventually you want consistency in the different ways that you describe your research. Keep thinking about what it is that you are really aiming to explain and then how you would operationalize that particular DV to best capture the phenomenon (and variation in that phenomenon) that you want to study.

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