Talking to the terrorists…

Earlier this week, in conversation with another academic, I was accused of “compromising my academic integrity” by talking with terrorists. At first, I was taken by surprise by this principally because I’m largely unaware that I had any academic integrity to compromise in the first place.  However, it does raise an interesting question about data in this field…Should we be talking to terrorists?

In the realm of terrorism research, the topic(s) turned to (a) the proliferation of publications in terrorism and (b) the limited use of first hand data in these publications. Despite the academic uptake on the topic it appears that very few academics or research institutes are actually speaking with “the terrorists“. This begs the question where is the academic community getting their data from? So this week, I’ve been looking through what has been published in the past year and trying to get an idea of the volume of the proportion of these publications that actually use any first hand data? Just to be clear, I don’t have a problem with secondary research or indeed the use of alternate forms of data – I just find it very interesting that the publishing surge on terrorism is driven largely by data we seem to already have on file.

I’ve started the process to quantify just how many academic outlets are present for peer reviewed study of terrorist studies and also, to see if there is any change in the volume of publications – so watch this space.





About Neil D. Walshe

Neil Walshe is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the University of San Francisco, California. His research looks at the role of courage and cowardice in the workplace in order to understand how moral behaviors relate to the world of work. While much of his work focuses on military and high-risk occupations, he tries to place the concept within the realm of more traditional white collar professions.
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