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A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Research Project in Conflict-Affected Settings

What are the steps involved in conducting research in these environments?

Research conducted in conflict-affected settings plays a crucial role in addressing health disparities and improving healthcare delivery for vulnerable populations. However, conducting research in such environments can present unique challenges. This article provides a step-by-step guide to help researchers navigate the complexities of conducting research in conflict-affected settings and maximize the impact of their work.

Step 1: Define the Research Question: Clearly define the research question, objectives, and hypotheses. Consider the specific context of the conflict-affected setting and the health issues that require attention. Engage with local stakeholders and experts to ensure the research question aligns with the needs and priorities of the population.

Step 2: Conduct a Literature Review: Conduct a comprehensive literature review to understand the existing knowledge and identify gaps in research. This will help shape the study design, methodology, and interventions. Pay attention to research conducted in similar conflict settings to gain insights and lessons learned.

Step 3: Develop a Research Plan: Develop a detailed research plan that includes the study design, sample size determination, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques. Consider the logistical constraints and resource availability in the conflict-affected setting. Collaborate with local partners and organizations to leverage resources and expertise.

Step 4: Obtain Ethical Approval: Seek ethical approval from the relevant ethical review committees or institutional review boards. Ensure compliance with ethical guidelines and regulations to protect the rights and well-being of research participants. Pay particular attention to the unique ethical challenges of the conflict setting and engage with local stakeholders to address them effectively.

Step 5: Secure Funding and Resources: Secure adequate funding and resources to support the research project. Explore funding opportunities from international organizations, research institutions, and humanitarian agencies. Seek partnerships with local organizations and leverage their existing infrastructure and resources.

Step 6: Recruit and Train Research Staff: Recruit and train research staff who have a good understanding of the conflict context and possess the necessary skills for data collection, ethical considerations, and participant engagement. Provide training on research ethics, data collection methods, and cultural sensitivity.

Step 7: Implement Data Collection: Implement data collection using appropriate methods aligned with the research objectives. Consider the literacy levels, cultural norms, and language barriers of the study population. Ensure participant privacy, confidentiality, and informed consent. Adapt data collection procedures to fit the local context and mitigate risks associated with the conflict setting.

Step 8: Analyze Data and Interpret Results: Analyze the collected data using appropriate statistical or qualitative analysis methods. Interpret the findings in the context of the research question, objectives, and existing literature. Engage with local stakeholders to validate and contextualize the results.

Step 9: Disseminate Findings: Disseminate the research findings through publications, conferences, and engagement with local stakeholders, policymakers, and healthcare providers. Use clear and accessible language to reach a broader audience. Collaborate with local partners to ensure the findings inform policy and practice.

Step 10: Monitor and Evaluate: Continuously monitor and evaluate the research project to assess its impact and identify areas for improvement. Reflect on challenges faced and lessons learned throughout the research process. Adapt the research plan, if necessary, to address emerging needs and changing circumstances.

Conclusion: Conducting research in conflict-affected settings requires careful planning, ethical considerations, and collaboration with local stakeholders. By following this step-by-step guide, researchers can navigate the challenges and contribute to evidence-based solutions that address health disparities and improve healthcare delivery for conflict-affected populations. Through rigorous research and meaningful engagement, we can drive positive change and make a lasting impact on health outcomes in conflict-affected settings.


Longman, T. (2013). Conducting Research in Conflict Zones: Lessons from the African Great Lakes Region. In D. Mazurana, K. Jacobsen, & L. Andrews Gale (Eds.), Research Methods in Conflict Settings: A View from Below (pp. 254-274). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139811910.017

Bentele, Ursina. “Guidelines to conflict sensitive research.” Swiss Academies Communications 15.5 (2020).

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Conducting Health Research in Conflict Settings: Navigating Research Challenges for Impactful Evidence

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