Coordinating with other researchers before entering the field can also help mitigate the ethical risks posed to disaster survivors by managing increased research activity in a disaster-affected area.1Rather than having separate investigators conduct similar studies on the same disaster-affected population, researchers can join forces and collaborate on disaster research.
Coordinating with Hazard and Disaster Researchers before Entering the Field
The Social Science Extreme Events Research—SSEER—network is a National Science Foundation-supported network and online platform for social scientists who study hazards and disasters. SSEER helps to identify and connect researchers and research teams around the world using its interactive map. The map includes information about a researcher’s affiliation, disciplinary foci, areas of expertise, the hazard and disaster events they have researched, and their work location. Before entering the field, researchers can use the map to coordinate and team up with other social scientists. Collaborating with other researchers interested in similar research topics can not only reduce participant burden, but can also facilitate scientific advancement by bringing together a mix of disciplines, resources, expertise, and perspectives.2
Coordinating with other researchers can also ensure that one’s research question is novel and not redundant to other research being done. This can help to minimize the risk of participants being subjected to multiple studies on the same topic.3 In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the National Science Foundation-supported CONVERGE facility and the Social Science Extreme Events Research—SSEER—network issued a call for COVID-19 Working Groups for Public Health and Social Sciences Research. CONVERGE funded 90 Working Groups that brought together over 1,300 researchers from across 5 continents who advanced novel research while engaging in coordinated research action.
Developing a registry of disaster research projects can also help advance research coordination and centralize information on studies being conducted—a suggestion that the CONVERGE facility took up during the COVID-19 pandemic, establishing a global research registry of ongoing investigations in public health and social sciences research.4
COVID-19 Global Research Registry for Public Health and Social Sciences
The COVID-19 Global Research Registry for Public Health and Social Sciences is a worldwide registry for the identification of COVID-19-related research and risk reduction efforts. This registry was launched by the National Science Foundation-supported CONVERGE facility and the Social Science Extreme Events Research—SSEER—network in response to a call from the (NIEHS) Working Group for Disaster Research at the National Institutes of Health. The registry, which is available in five languages, was formed in partnership with global, regional, and national networks and associations dedicated to advancing public health and social science and organizations committed to reducing disaster risk.
1.Beaven S, Wilson T, Johnston L, Johnston D, Smith R. Research engagement after disasters: Research coordination before, during, and after the 2011-2012 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence, New Zealand. Earthquake Spectra. 2016;32(2):713-735. doi:10.1193/082714EQS134M
2.Peek L, Champeau H, Austin J, Matthews M, Wu H. What methods do social scientists use to study disasters? An analysis of the Social Science Extreme Events Research Network. American Behavioral Scientist. Published online 2020. doi:10.1177/0002764220938105
3.Barron Ausbrooks CY, Barrett EJ, Martinez-Cosio M. Ethical issues in disaster research: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Population Research and Policy Review. 2009;28(1). doi:10.1007/s11113-008-9112-7
4.Packenham JP, Rosselli RT, Ramsey SK, et al. Conducting science in disasters: Recommendations from the NIEHS Working Group for Special IRB Considerations in the Review of Disaster Related Research. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2017;125(9). doi:10.1289/EHP2378