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Research Methods in ISCRAM

5th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management ISCRAM2008
SPECIAL SESSION on Research Methods in ISCRAM

The field of Information Systems (IS) suffers from an overwhelming bias towards studies driven by statistical hypothesis testing of the Neyman-Pearson type. IS researchers working in the domain of emergency management therefore face a preposterous situation: while the events that they study can be highly salient, they are alsoóby definitionórare and often unreplicable. Research designs in this domain are therefore not immediately amenable to the dominant IS research approach. The situation is somewhat reminiscent of that found in some so-called hard sciences, the difference being that one-shot phenomenaóprovided they are ìsignificantîóreceive considerable and sustained attention. Other sciences donít have an issue with one-shot studies: what is our problem?

There have been two basic types of attempts to overcome the infeasibilityóperhaps even the impossibilityóof large sample studies in the ISCRAM domain. One has been to pretend that laboratory studies using naive subjects (e.g., ìmasterís students in business at a large midwestern universityî), performing tasks for which they have little or no skill (e.g., manning an emergency operations center), constitute ìresearch in emergency management.î Such studies commonly yield infinitestimally small p-values. In the second type, researchers simply invent ìapproachesî or ìsoftwareî which are ìcoolî and ìneatî, but which have no prospect for being evaluated along any meaningful dimensions in the so-called real world.


The main objective of this session is to display state of the art research methods intended to improve understanding about the role of information systems in any (or all) phases of crisis management. The session will focus on methods that have been applied and evaluated, whether in the field, laboratory or in computer-based simulations. Of particular interest are papers that address any of the following topic areas:

ï Issues of internal and external validity in disaster research methods;
ï Integration of data from human and machine (e.g., sensor-based) sources;
ï Evaluation studies or review papers of disaster research methodologies;
ï Policy-level issues that may aid or inhibit data collection;
ï Adaptation of methodologies from outside crisis response and management.

Of secondary interest are papers that present (but do not report on the implementa-tion or evaluation of) disaster research methods.

Consistent with the theme of ISCRAM, papers are especially welcome that discuss how disaster research methodologies can be used to inform the design of information systems to support decision making during crisis response.

Click here to download the Special Session Call in PDF format

Institutional Members



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