Inderscience Publishers

Causality, covariates and consensus in ISCRAM research: Towards a more robust study design in a transdisciplinary community

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Research in disaster management encompasses a variety of academicdisciplines. Yet, despite calls to expand the range of methodologies used andelaborate a nascent theory of disaster management, progress towards atransdisciplinary framework is slow. Some reasons for this are explored byfocusing on the research efforts of the international community for InformationSystems in Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM). Similar to theprimary disciplines it draws from, ISCRAM research is typified by case studyevaluations. As a result of poorly articulated case study methodologies andthe lack of alternative methods, the confidence in causal and generalisabilityclaims remains questionable. Performance evaluation techniques may closethese gaps, but several limiting factors must first be addressed – in particular,parameterising and controlling for context variables must receive moreattention. The need for well-explicated covariates, such as a disaster severityindex that describes the relative impact between incident types, is explored insome detail. The relationship connecting the context and performanceassessment variables is briefly considered. Finally, we suggest that the qualityof research and theory building is contingent on a deeper, transdisciplinarydialogue about the nature of scientific evidence within ISCRAM – a discussionthat may also gradually inform a general theory of disaster management.

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