Creating a collection of literature on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)

(Photo: jarmoluk)

For the last six months or so, I’ve been working (slowly) with a small team (mainly Anne Wallace-DiGarbo, Katherine Smith, Judy Litke and me) to create a collection of research and literature on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). It went live today!

The collection, which is available from, is grouped under four headings:

  1. Descriptions of AVP – non-research literature about AVP (e.g., descriptions of AVP workshops and discussion of the history of AVP)
  2. AVP Research – evaluations of AVP and other research about AVP
  3. Related research – research that is relevant to AVP but is not directly about AVP (e.g., research about related programs or violence prevention)
  4. Research methods (coming soon) – discussion about research designs, methods & instruments that might be used in AVP research.

We originally started working on a collection of AVP research, but as we found other useful material we decided to expand the focus to AVP literature. So far we have concentrated on AVP research and will continue to look for more material for the other sections.

Creating the collection have raised a number of dilemmas.

What to include?

So far we’ve taken a broad approach to what to include although we will probably have to create some inclusion and exclusion criteria as the collection grows. Particularly when considering evaluations of the impact of AVP or other research about AVP, we have wanted to be as inclusive as possible. We have thus included unpublished reports or summaries rather than limiting it to published or peer reviewed papers.

The section with descriptions of AVP needs more work and my impression is that we will have to become more selective than in the section on AVP research. So far we have mainly included published works as many AVP groups have short descriptions on their websites and it would be difficult to include them all. Once again, it there is a good unpublished paper we would be happy to include it, but we don’t want it to get too big.

Related research could grow to be huge. At the moment, all the works in this section are directly related to AVP (e.g., the evaluation of a program that was based on AVP). But we could include the latest research on topics such as violence prevention, anger, empathy and other topics we explore in AVP workshop. It would be good to develop a clear criteria for whether or not to include material.

We haven’t done much on research methods yet. Here we will include measures that are used in AVP evaluations, or discussion of how we should evaluate AVP. There is a push to have AVP listed as an evidence-based program, and so there could be quite a lot of discussion about how to provide such an evidence-base. Originally we did think we would include material from AVP discussion boards, but I suspect such an approach could quickly become too big and unmanageable. Maybe we could include a summary of some of the key discussions every now and again.

What is research?

Particularly when deciding what to include in the section of AVP research, there can be questions about how we define research. Some things are clearly primary research (e.g., quantitative and qualitative evaluation studies) or secondary research (e.g., literature reviews); and some things are clearly not research (e.g., a description of an AVP workshop). But there is also literature which could be considered research, depending on your understanding of research and evidence.

We have purposefully taken a broad definition of research and not limited ourselves to empirical, quantitative or peer-reviewed studies. While there is a need for these types of studies, there is also value in many other forms of research and reflection1.


The main users of the collection will probably be AVP facilitators, who are mostly community members without access to the online databases available to many university academics and students. This means that some articles are not available to everyone.

We did consider uploading them behind a firewall, but we did not feel this was appropriate (or legal).

If an article is already on the internet, we link to the external source. Some paper are unpublished paper and we have been given permission to share them.

We are exploring ways to make other articles available and are in the process of seeking permission from authors to share their work.

While authors generally do not own the copyright to the final published version of an article, they often have the right to share (often call self-archiving) the last version of the paper either before the peer review process or after the peer review process (but before the final formatting etc. for publication).

There is a useful website (SHERPA RoMEO) which classifies journals according to their self-archiving policy as follows:

Sherpa RoMEO Colour Archiving policy
Green Can archive pre-print and post-print* or publisher’s version/PDF
Blue Can archive post-print (i.e., final draft post-refereeing) or publisher’s version/PDF
Yellow Can archive pre-print (i.e., pre-refereeing)
White Archiving not formally supported

* They define pre-print as being the version of the paper before peer review and post-prints as being the version of the paper after peer-review, with revisions having been made. (There are more details here.)

For articles that are published but not freely available, we hope to obtain as many pre-publication versions of papers as possible.

The next steps

We hope that the collection will encourage AVP facilitators and researchers to build on the existing literature. We suspect there is still quite a bit of research literature on AVP we haven’t captured yet, and we KNOW there is more needing to be included in the other sections.

Now that the collection is publically available, we hope that it will encourage people to contact us with suggestions, corrections and leads.

Over the coming months (and years) we will continue to update the list, add keywords to help with finding relevant material, and try to make it easier to access papers.

As well as thanks to Anne, Katherine and Judy (the main ones working on it), were also grateful for the support of Tino, Bronwen, Chaundra and members of the AVP International research team who assisted with various stages of the project.


  1. Epstein, I. (2009). Promoting harmony where there is commonly conflict: Evidence-informed practice as an integrative strategy. Social Work in Health Care, 48(3), 216-231. doi: 10.1080/00981380802589845

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. What are Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops?
  2. Strengths-based measurement
  3. What are evidence-based programs?
  4. Research evidence for family (and community) workers
  5. What are program logic models?
  6. Rethinking the roles of families and clients in evidence-based practice

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), Being an academic and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Creating a collection of literature on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)

  1. What an epic contribution. Hopefully researchers will see value in having their work in your collection and start coming to you… Do you have resources to grow and maintain the collection over the longer term? Or something like a succession plan?


    • Thanks Rowena. Yes the risk with this type of project is that it does go out of date. We don’t have any funding, which is one reason it has taken such a long time to organise. The team is going to continue working on it, and I think the succession planning with be done through the AVP international research committee.


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