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International Recovery Platform

Quick response disaster research: opportunities and challenges for a new funding program

Quick response research conducted by social scientists in the aftermath of a disaster can reveal important findings about hazards and their impacts on communities. Research to collect perishable data, or data that will change or be lost over time, immediately following disaster has been supported for decades by two programs in the United States, amassing a collection of quick response studies and an associated research culture. That culture is currently being challenged to better address power imbalances between researchers and disaster-affected participants. Until recently, Canada has not had a quick response grant program. In order to survey the state of knowledge and draw from it in helping to shape the new program in Canada, this article systematically analyzes the body of research created by the two US programs. The results reveal a wide-ranging literature: the studies are theoretically, conceptually, topically, and methodologically quite unique to one another. This diversity might appropriately reflect the nature of disasters, but the finding that many studies are not building on previous quick response research and other insights indicate opportunities for how a new grant program in Canada can contribute to growing a robust subdiscipline of disaster research.


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