Taiwan University. Significantly more cross-national and comparative research is needed to further document and explain cross-societal variations in response and recovery processes and outcomes across different scales and different disaster events. Disasters such as the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami merit intensive study because they allow for rich comparisons at various scales (individuals, households, communities, and institutional and societal levels), providing an opportunity to greatly expand existing social science knowledge.
Recommendation 4.7: Taking into account both existing research and future research needs, sustained efforts should be made with respect to data archiving, sharing, and dissemination.
As noted in detail in Chapter 7, attention must be paid to issues related to data standardization, data archiving, and data sharing in hazards and disaster research. NEHRP has been a major driving force in the development of databases on response and recovery issues. However, vast proportions of these data have yet to be fully analyzed. For social scientists to be able to fully exploit the data that currently exist, let alone the volume of data that will be collected in the future, specific steps have to be taken to make available and systematically collect, preserve, and disseminate such data appropriately within the research community. As recommended in Chapter 7, information management strategies must be well coordinated, formally planned, and consistent with federal guidelines governing the protection of information on human subjects. Assuming that these foundations are established, the committee supports the creation of a Disaster Data Archive organized in ways that would encourage broader use of social science data on disaster response and recovery. Contents of this archive would include (but not be limited to) survey instruments; cleaned databases in common formats; code books, coding instructions and other forms of documentation; descriptions of samples and sampling methods; collections of papers containing analyses using those databases; photographs and Internet links (where applicable); and related research materials. Procedures for data archiving and sharing would build on existing protocols set out by organizations such as the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (e.g., ICPSR, 2005).
The distributed Disaster Data Archive would perform a number of important functions for social science hazards and disaster research and for the nation. The existence of the archive would make it much more likely that existing data sets will be used to their full potential by greatly improving accessibility. The archive would serve as an important tool for undergraduate and graduate education by making data more easily available for course projects, theses, and dissertations. By enabling researchers to access instruments used in previous research and incorporate past survey and