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What is research and why is it important to disaster management?

Research drone – kjpargeter / Freepik

Research involves asking questions and finding the answers.

It involves a search into something, a search for something, the gathering of more information about something, finding out other people’s opinions and making enquiries about what has been previously done.

Through observation, skilled questioning and analysis, we can assess the effects that activities, events or phenomena have on society.

Have you ever wondered what the word ‘research’ means and why it is important to human inquiry?

The word research comprises the prefix, ‘re’, which means repeat or again, and the word ‘search’, which means examine, explore, comb or hunt. Literally speaking, research means ‘explore repeatedly’.

The Oxford Dictionaries’ (2019) definition of the word ‘research’ reveals its meaning as:

The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

These definitions suggest that the important words used to define research are: explore, investigate, systematic, materials, sources, and facts.

Research is planned not sporadic, organised not haphazard, and structured not chaotic. It is also based on evidence not opinion, data, replicable findings and not chance observations.

The same principles are followed by researchers in the field of disaster or emergency management. The field requires a combination of social and scientific research approaches. Sources can be quantitative, numerically measurable or qualitative or non-numerical as well as incorporating mixtures of both.

Your task

Have you had an opportunity to investigate, repeat a search or explore for information recently? Answer the following questions about how you undertook the task:

  • What made you carry out such an investigation?

  • How did you go about the search?

  • What did you find out from your search?

Share your thoughts with your fellow learners in the comments area. The answers to these questions will guide your thoughts on a few considerations before embarking on a research activity.


Oxford Dictionaries (2019) Oxford Living Dictionaries [online] available from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/research [07 May 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

Researching Risk, Disasters and Emergencies

Coventry University