Research methodology and policy analysis unit 1

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The Johnson county emergency manager, the city of Smith police chief, and the state of chaos director of homeland security are working together to plan for evacuations of citizens and their pets and livestock during wildfires, which are prevalent in their region each summer. During the last round of fires this past summer, several critical issues surfaced. 

  • People were reluctant to leave pets and livestock behind, but it was critical that they evacuate quickly to save their own lives. Some people were caught sneaking back into the area to liberate their animals, and one woman was severely injured by returning to a closed area for a pet.
  • People often attempted to defend their own properties from fire with water hoses, fire repellents, and with makeshift earthen berms. Trying to force them to leave their land led to several confrontations and even a few arrests for physical altercations. These encounters also consumed precious time and resources.
  • Shelters that could be ready quickly had very limited space on short notice. More space could be arranged, but it often took 24 hours or longer to coordinate larger areas. None of the currently designated shelters permit pets.
  • Residents of vulnerable areas complained that they had little advance warning of an approaching fire. They received no word when an “all clear” was called.
  • Residents who were evacuated more than once are publicly demanding that local and state leadership take proactive preventative measures.

You are a planner within one of the three agencies listed in the scenario. In developing plans for crisis response, you have found the scientific method to be extremely effective, especially because it helps to identify empirical evidence that supports predicting behavior and prescribing policy. Based on the scenario, you must do the following:

Assignment Guidelines

  • Develop three (3) separate research questions with regard to the wildfire information above.
  • In 1,000–1,250 words, address the following
    • For each research question, explain why the research question has merit and how it is tied to lessons learned from the past fire season.
      • Consider and present arguments for what real-world applicability answering each question could provide to your agency.
    • For each research question, develop three (3) separate hypotheses that could be tested.
      • For each hypothesis, identify the independent and dependent variables.
      • Explain why the causality between these variables goes in the direction you claim that it goes. (In other words, make clear why the variables cannot logically be reversed.)
      • Explain and defend what type(s) of evidence you might examine to test each hypothesis. 
  • Ensure your research questions and hypotheses are specifically related to your agency or argue why and how questions and hypotheses appearing to be broad are in fact relevant for your agency’s own use.
    • For each hypothesis, outline for your agency ways in which potential findings from testing each hypothesis could be used in plans or policies your agency should produce before the next wildfire season (this should be estimated without knowing what your actual findings will be).

For example, say that you choose to test a hypothesis stating the following: “If a given fire is resolved during the darkness, there will be more looters in the evacuated area.”   

  • To locate empirical evidence, you plan to examine crime statistics for reports of looting in areas hit by wildfires. 
  • You will also check dates and times to see how soon after the fire the looting occurs. 
  • Because it makes sense, you also will check whether more expensive homes are looted more often than lower income homes and look for patterns in these statistics. 
  • Lastly, you decide to look at whether people with homes that are completely destroyed (versus partially destroyed or completely intact) report any evidence of looting.  

If you test this hypothesis and find the evidence strongly supports the causality you claim (a fire’s resolution during darkness promotes looting), you might propose a plan or policy that provides increased security in the area until homeowners can return to and secure their property. You might further recommend a process for notifying people that they can return home. 

If there does not seem to be any causality between darkness and the incidence of looting, but looting still occurs, your recommendations (as given above) might remain the same. 

Lastly, if you find looting after fires is rare or nonexistent, you might recommend the issue not be addressed anywhere in plans and policies so that security resources can be conserved, but anyone reading the policy will not be alerted to this leaner security status.

  • Compile your research questions, hypotheses, and responses into your final paper, and submit the file to your instructor.
  • All sources must be referenced using APA style.
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