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Visualizing the Invisible is Now Available as PDF/EBook Through Dissertation.com

My Thesis, Visualizing the Invisible has been published and is now available for purchase through Dissertation.com


Visualizing the Invisible:  Application of Knowledge Domain Visualization to the Longstanding Problem of

Disciplinary and Professional Conceptualization in Emergency and Disaster Management

Joseph G. Martin III

Volume: 88 pages

ISBN-10: 1612334288

ISBN-13: 9781612334288 –


My thesis has been published!

It is now available as a PDF/E-Book on Dissertation.com for the low, low, price of $24.  Act now and I will throw in not only 1 Thesis, but I will give you……..

Actually, if anyone asks me nicely  I would most likely send you a copy for free.  Just remember to cite the work properly.  I am more than happy just to see it published: I will try to make a fortune and fund my retirement from the next book….



How I Gave Myself a Headache Considering the Disciplinarity of Disaster Studies and Sciences….


When Disciplinary Boundaries Fall: Overlay map showing the source journals for over 5000 disaster and hazard-related articles published in 2013 and indexed in Web of Science. These journals are overlaid upon Leydesdorff et al.'s (2013) basemap of science based upon 2011 citing patterns between journals.

Disasters Across the Disciplines: Preliminary overlay map showing the source journals for over 5000 disaster and hazard-related articles published in 2013 and indexed in Web of Science. These journals are overlaid upon Leydesdorff et al.’s (2013) basemap of science using 2011 citing patterns between journals.

Density, or "heat" map, of the above map, showing the areas most active in Disaster Studies and Sciences in 2013.

Density, or “heat” map, of the same data, showing the journal areas most active in Disaster Studies and Sciences in 2013.


The great physicist Niels Bohr once said something to the effect that anyone who didn’t come away from reading about quantum mechanics with their head spinning probably hadn’t understood it properly.  I have found that, in addition to quantum mechanics, any significant time spent thinking about the nature of disciplines and how best to describe Disaster Studies and Sciences in terms of disciplinarity, also tends to make my head spin.  

There is at the moment no shortage of descriptors for disciplinarity: unidisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, crossdisciplinary, metadisciplinary, hyperdisciplinary, superdisciplinary, supradisciplinary, and transdisciplinary can all be found in the literature.  Despite the multitude of terms, no clear, consistent, and agreed typology currently exists.  So one has an veritable ocean of ideas within which to swim about.  Or drown in.

Of course, there is much that is historical, sociological, political, economic, and just flat out arbitrary in the development of academic and professional “disciplines.” The quest for knowledge using systematic methods predates any attempts to make the pursuit of that knowledge the primary domain of particular individuals.  So to some extent in trying to develop a logical, coherent conception of academic, scientific, and professional disciplines, we are trying to logically explain what was originally created without logic, or “big picture” in mind.

This does not mean that the concept of disciplines is of no value.  It means that a degree of fuzziness and inconsistency in our concepts should be expected.

In my thesis, I assert that based upon the existence and structure of its body of knowledge, what is often referred to as “Emergency Management” involves far more disciplines than recognized.  I suggest that this field/discipline is more accurately called Disaster Studies and Sciences (DSS).   I am beginning to see, however, that simply calling DSS a “discipline” is more problematic.  DSS is certainly not unidisciplinary and does not fit within any traditional disciplinary map of  knowledge, yet it does have an organized structure.  There can be no doubt that DSS is multidisciplinary but it does not appear to transcend its individual disciplines to the level of an interdiscipline or transdiscipline….

 And this is the point where my head starts to hurt and I begin to think that some part of the puzzle is just out of reach…..

Here are the Web of Science categories that the most cited 6000 articles with disaster as part of its title and topic area.  Each color corresponds to one of six broad disciplinary areas identified by Leydesdorff et al.

Here is an overlay map of  Web of Science categories used to index the 6000 most cited results of a title and topic search for articles containing “disaster”.  Each color corresponds to one of six broad disciplinary areas identified by Leydesdorff et al.

Density map of the same data.

Density map of the same data.

Whole Community Emergency Management: Was I Suppose to Have Noticed a Difference?


"There's nothing in the streets/ Looks any different to me/ And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye" The Who- "Won't Get Fooled Again"

“There’s nothing in the streets/Looks any different to me/And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye”    The Who- “Won’t Get Fooled Again”


Imagine my surprise when I learned recently we have been living in the promise land of Whole Community Emergency Management since 2011 and somehow I had neither known nor noticed any difference!

I do not know why, but I do not recall much being made of this document in 2011, nor do I recall hearing much made of it since then.  I still hear about the National Response Framework, National Incident Management System, and even occasionally the National Recovery Framework….but what has happened to Whole Community Emergency Management?  Was it really meant as a paradigm shift, or simply meant to give the appearance of a major change in approach to federal emergency management?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but something seems just a little suspect when FEMA starts coining terms to promote their “NEW!….IMPROVED!” emergency management.  We already have Comprehensive Emergency Management, Integrated  Emergency Management, and even (if you pay attention to what is going on in other parts of the world…) Integrated Disaster Risk Management: do we really need another?  And if I wasn’t already suspicious enough, there seems to be something rather strange about FEMA claiming the idea of community-based emergency management as if this is something new and original, when scholars and researchers have been advocating community-based approaches since before there was a FEMA.

Would I be alone in thinking there is something amusingly odd, even ironic, about FEMA teaching “bottom-up” emergency management to state and local emergency management?  But there will be nothing amusing to those at the community level, who have embraced and put their energies into collaborative programs of emergency and disaster management thinking this is the change they have waited for, when they discover that this new and improved version of emergency management did not come with systems to  make state-level and federal level assistance faster and more responsive in addressing their needs.  Go ask some of those still rebuilding after Sandy how responsive this Whole Community Emergency Management has worked out for them.  Or could it be it no longer applies after the disaster strikes?

The simple fact is that calling EM  “Comprehensive” or “Whole Community” or whatever catchy term someone with marketing flair thinks will catch on does not mean very much.  What you call your version of EM isn’t important.  In any form of professional practice, what you call the approach is not what matters.  I don’t care what name my lawyer or my surgeon gives to his particular brand of lawyering or surgery: I want him to know what he is doing, and to do it well.

I don’t care what it is called, the important question is whether it is “good” emergency management, both in idea AND in practice.







Document Co-Citation Analysis 1995-2013: 2004

The 100 most cited references in 2004 have formed into a larger number of structures than the previous year.  The modularity is also too low for CiteSpace to identify individual clusters.

The 100 most cited references in 2004 have formed into a larger number of structures (7) as well as clusters (11) than the previous year. 

2004 Clusters

Here is 2004, but this time visualized differently, with the nodes colored according to cluster membership.

Having thoroughly depressed myself in the last post by pondering one of many possible unpleasant futures awaiting humanity (and that does not even include possibilities such as the “technological singularity” some futurists have hypothesized may be approaching, perhaps as early as mid-century, beyond which future human history becomes impossible to predict) , let us return to the year-by-year document co-citation analysis of my modified thesis dataset.

We now arrive at 2004.  

Compared to the previous year, this year is somewhat more fragmented, with a larger number of individual structures visible, as well as a greater number of clusters.  We do however, see a broad mix of hazard science and the human dimensions of disaster, including a structure that includes a social science and hazard  science cluster linked together (Cluster 7 and Cluster 8).  The two largest clusters this year are the humanitarianism/development cluster (Cluster 9) and the landslide/susceptibility cluster (Cluster 6).  Some of the significant works cited this year include those by Guzzetti, the Sphere Project, Peacock, and McCarthy’s contribution to the IPCC 2001 climate change report.

Cluster Summary:

Cluster Summarization

Network Summary, Organized by Cluster Membership:

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Network Narrative: 

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Citation Burst Information:

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Document Co-Citation Analysis 1995-2013: 2003

2003 DCA

DCA 2003, 100 Most Cited

The 2003 visualization is notable for a couple of reasons.  First, the visualization is dominated by a single,  multi-cluster, multi-disciplinary, structure.  This structure contains 6 of the 9 total clusters, and 87 of the 100 most cited references for 2003.

The left, less dense,  side of the structure contains 5 clusters: Cluster #7 (emergencies; systems; humanitarian) includes four works related to complex emergencies and humanitarianism that have consistently appeared in previous years; Cluster #6 (emergency; preparedness) includes key works by Mileti, Tierney, and Drabek.  Cluster #5 (vulnerability; impact; hazard; flood) includes the IPCC 2001 Summary for Policy Makers, Ian Davis’ 1978 work on disaster shelter, and Etkins’ 1999 article on risk transference; Cluster #4, (which includes the IPCC 2001 scientific report, Pielke and Landsea’s 1998  work on normalized hurricane damage, and Changnon et al.’s 2001 paper on losses from extreme weather events) pertains to the possible meteorological impacts of climate change.  Cluster #2 is the largest, with 44 members.  it is also the most heterogeneous of the clusters, making it difficult to classify with a single label.  Works in this cluster include: Cannon’s vulnerability analysis contribution to 1994’s Disasters, Development, and Environment; White’s 1974 Natural Hazards;  and Kunkel et al.’s 1999 paper on extreme precipitation trends.  The cluster boundaries encompass Granger et al.’s 1999 multi-hazard risk assessment of Cairnes, Australia; Fell’s 1997 book on landslide risk assessment; and extend across the right side of the structure to include several other works on landslide hazards.

The remainder of nodes on the right side of the structure belong to Cluster #3 (maps; susceptibility), the second largest cluster with 28 members.  Works in the cluster pertain to remote sensing/GIS applications and landslide hazards,   including Varnes’ 1984  work on landslide hazard zonation.

Two of the remaining three small clusters (#0 and #1) pertain to seismic hazards.  The final cluster (#8) relates to tsunamis.

What also makes the 2003 network notable is the large number of high centrality nodes (nodes with pink rings). Eleven nodes have centrality values equal to, or greater than 0.10.   This is by far the greatest number of high centrality nodes to appear so far.  These nodes, whether they are cited frequently or infrequently, usually serve as “gateways” between clusters or different parts of the network.   Nodes with both high citation frequency  and high centrality (such as the works by Mileti, Hewitt, Chambers, Granger, Fell, White, Brabb, and Varnes) are, in keeping with Chen’s purpose in developing CiteSpace, candidates as possible turning points in a knowledge domain.  This is especially the case if examination of the merged network (which includes all of the individual time slices) shows the node is a link between different time periods.  In some studies using CiteSpace, such as examining research on dinosaur extinction, Chen would confirm these turning points by sending questions about the importance of particular works to key authors identified in the network.  This works well for scientific research domains within a single discipline, where theories and schools of thought are more clearly delineated, and more linear, than they may be in an evolving, multi-disciplinary knowledge domain.

Cluster Summary:

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Network Summary, Organized by Cluster Membership:

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Network Narrative: 

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Citation Burst Information:

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Document Co-Citation Analysis 1995-2013: 2002

DCA 2002

DCA 2002, 100 Most Cited

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DCA 2002: Timeline View

The 100 most cited documents in the dataset for 2002 form thirteen clusters.   This year sees Mileti’s Disasters by Design occupy the spotlight as the primary landmark node in the network.  Co-citation links are found between it,  At Risk, and Hewitt’s Regions of Risk, among others.  Included in this co-citation cluster (#11-drought) is also a 1991 paper by DE Alexander on use of information  technology for real-time disaster monitoring.  The works in this cluster were cited in a variety of contexts, as evidenced by the cluster summary.  Other possible labels for this cluster include: community resilience; vulnerability; evacuation; impact; health; volcanic hazards; and others.

Additional social science clusters can also be found.  These include clusters related to seed relief/seed security (#2 diversity); and a small humanitarianism cluster (#5- humanitarian).

Another social science article of note is one not linked by co-citation to any other paper in 2002’s 100 most cited.  It is a member of a small cluster (#10-earthquake/community preparedness) that includes DE Alexander’s 2000 paper in Disaster Prevention and Management on use of scenarios for teaching emergency management; and JI Abrams 1993 paper on earthquake prehospital mortality patterns.  The article is Wise’s December 2002 “Organizing for Homeland Security”. This makes it the first post 911-related paper to appear among the 100 (although it was published in Dec 2002, it was cited in articles by Waugh and Kirlin in the same issue of Public Administration Review ).  It also may mark the entry of Public Administration as a significant disciplinary input into the disaster literature.  This is not to say that PA was not involved previously, only that its participation and importance will become more pronounced from this point forward.

Within hazards research, there are two structures of note.  The first is a well-formed structure of four, linked clusters (#6, 7, 8, 9), related to seismic hazards.  This contains works by Papazachos, Kanamori, Cornell, Tselentis, Tinti, and others.  Cluster 6 was cited in relation to  the 1999 Athens earthquake.  Cluster 7 was cited in relation to tsunamis and the Cascadia subduction zone.  Cluster 8 relates to seismic hazard assessment in general.  Cluster 9 pertains to seismic assessment of Lake Nasser and proposed Kalabsha Dam in Egypt.

The second is a well-formed hazard cluster pertaining to avalanches, snow avalanches, and avalanche forecasting (#3- large).

Cluster Summary:

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Network Narrative: 

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Citation Burst Information:

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Document Co-Citation Analysis 1995-2013: 2001

DCA 2001 Panorama

DCA 2001, 100 Most Cited

The 100 most cited documents in the dataset for 2001 are organized into eleven identifiable clusters.   This year, the work of two geographers, Hewitt’s Regions of Risk,  and Alexander’s  Confronting Catastrophe, take center stage.  Both belong  to a multi-disciplinary “vulnerability” cluster (#5) that also includes At Risk, and Hoffman and Oliver-Smith’s The Angry Earth.  This cluster is linked to what should by now be becoming a familiar cluster of documents: the conflict/humanitarian/chronic emergencies cluster (#4-“context”).  There is also a secondary un-linked “emergencies” cluster related to child refugee health and nutrition deficiencies.

Other important cited references standing out in 2001 are Newhall et al.’s 1982 paper introducing the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI); Hanks and Kanamori’s 1979 Moment Magnitude Scale paper.  These are part of a three-cluster structure (#2, #7, #8) cited in relation to tsunami hazards, which also includes Bryant et al.’s 1996 paper on tsunamis’ role in coastal evolution.  There is a fairly dense cluster (#6- system) connecting papers on expert systems to assessment of landslide hazards.  Climate change issues are also beginning to enter the top 100 (#8- climate).

Absent from the network are any references connected to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.  This is to be expected.  Due to the nature of academic publication,  there is a lag between actual events and publication of journal articles related to those events.  From previous year’s results, this lag time can be roughly estimated at a minimum of 1-2 years (this is roughly estimated by looking at the difference between papers’ year of publication and the year of first appearance in the network) .  We might expect to see some influence of 9-11 in 2002’s most cited references, but is more likely to be seen in 2003 and beyond.

Cluster summary:

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Network Narrative: 

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Citation Burst Information:

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Document Co-Citation Analysis 1995-2013: 2000

DCA 2000, 100 Most Cited: Wide-Angel View

DCA 2000, 100 Most Cited: Wide-Angel View


DCA 2000: 100 Most Cited (click to enlarge)

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DCA 2000, 100 Most Cited: CiteSpace “Timezone” view that allows view of cited references grouped by year of reference.

In 2000, the 100 most cited divide into 16 clusters of varying sizes.  Works by Sen, Wells, Ambraseys, Putnam, Alexander, and Noji are among the prominent features of the 100 most cited of 2000.  The largest social science structure consists of two linked clusters  covering international development, conflict, aid, and humanitarianism.  At Risk continues again makes an appearance, but in 2000 is part of a small cluster (#10- vulnerability) connecting vulnerability and poverty.   Noji’s 1997 and Alexander’s 1996 articles are linked together in a multi-disciplinary  (sociology, public health, and geography) cluster covering disaster health effects.  Natural hazard research continues strong, with Wells and Coppersmith’s 1994 article on new empirical relationships  to estimate maximum earthquake magnitudes anchoring a large two-cluster structure linking seismic and tsunami hazard papers.

Cluster summary:

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Network Narrative: 

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Citation Burst Information:

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Document Co-Citation Analysis 1994-2013: 1999

DCA 1999-100

DCA 1999 100 Most Cited (click to enlarge)

The 100 Most Cited documents for 1998 organize into 18 individual clusters.  The year is dominated by: 1) a large, and well-cited landslide hazard and GIS research cluster (Varnes, Chung, and Carrara); and 2) two joined clusters of social science research. The Quarantelli, Bolin, and WA Anderson cluster concerns community disaster management as well as ethnicity. It is linked to the humanitarian/household needs assessment cluster containing Chambers and Sphere Project. The two clusters are linked together by At Risk. The majority of remaining clusters are related to geomorphology (landslide and seismic processes), including Smalley’s 1987 work examining earthquakes as a critical process.

Cluster summary:

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Network Narrative: 

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Citation Burst Information:

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Document Co-Citation Analysis 1995-2013: 1997

DCA 1997

1997 DCA. Quite a few nice looking clusters have emerged…and we now have two linked clusters- (#13 Preparedness and #11 management) still awaiting the development of more between-cluster links.

Cluster summary:

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Network Narrative: 

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Citation Burst Information:

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In 1997 we see 14 clusters encompassing a variety of research topics. Key works by Hewitt, Smith, and Drabek appear for the first time.  Two linked clusters have emerged this year, and for the first time, a multi-disciplinary social science/geography collection of articles represents the largest cluster (#13-preparedness-and even includes a  seismic work of Ambraseys). Beginning to see some works appear consistently from year to year.  Hewitt’s work shows a relatively strong 5-year citation burst, and Smith has a weaker but longer 12-year burst.  These bursts, again, will not start until after 2000. Complexity science and criticality’s relationship to hazard phenomenon has now become a research topic, as Bak is present in two separate hazard-related clusters.

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