A Global Outlook on Disaster Science

Every year, disasters impact human lives and take a significant economic toll. Science plays a key role in reducing disaster risk and mitigating impact. The importance of disaster science is reflected in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which links research to key priorities, including understanding disaster causes, investing in resilience, and strengthening governance. In this report, we examine the link between man-made and natural disasters on the one hand, and disaster science scholarly output on the other. We uncover the focus areas of disaster science and zoom in on the most prominent countries involved in disaster science research.

For this report, A Global Outlook on Disaster Science, Elsevier has partnered with leading international institutions1 and drew upon high-quality global data including Scopus to examine the state of worldwide disaster science research. With this report, we wish to describe the field of disaster science and contribute to evidence-based disaster risk reduction policy development and implementation in support to governments, research institutions and funding agencies.

This report is part of Elsevier’s continued commitment to support the UN SDGs, and follows our reports Sustainability in the Global Research Landscape and Gender in the Global Research Landscape, as well as our engagement of the RELX Group SDG Resource Center.

The report displays an analysis of global disaster science scholarly output and specific topics being studied within research on different types of disasters. One of the most novel analyses presented in the report is the examination of disaster science in the context of the human toll and economic burden of natural disasters. The study also provides more insights on disaster science research conducted in 10 individual countries, in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, revealing which disaster types are researched and where.

The core findings

  1. The analyses of this report show that out of the four disaster management cycle stages, prevention has the highest number of publications. Among research on specific disaster types according to the Sendai framework, the highest number of publications is on geophysical disasters.
  2. China is the most prolific country in disaster science scholarly output overall and disaster prevention scholarly output, while the US is the most prolific country in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery scholarly output.
  3. Countries with the highest death tolls from natural disasters tend to have low volumes of disaster science scholarly output; and countries with the highest economic losses from natural disasters tend to have the largest disaster science scholarly output.

Key measures of this report and previous reports

Click on the charts to view in larger detail.

Figure 1.2 - Disaster science scholarly output overall, by disaster management cycle stage, and by disaster type according to the Sendai Framework; 2012-2016; source: Scopus®.
Figure 1.2 - Disaster science scholarly output overall, by disaster management cycle stage, and by disaster type according to the Sendai Framework; 2012-2016; source: Scopus®.
Figure 2.1 Natural disasters death toll versus disaster science output & specialization
Figure 2.1 - 2004-2013 natural disasters death toll as a share of population (shade of country), disaster science 2012-2016 scholarly output (size of circle), disaster science 2012-2016 relative activity index (RAI, color of circle); sources: Scopus, IFRC 2015 Disaster Report, World Bank, and Taiwan Statistical Data book.
Figure 2.4 - Disaster sceince scholarly output (circle size), relative activity index, and field-weighted citation impact per comparator country
Figure 2.4 - Disaster science scholarly output (circle size), relative activity index, and field-weighted citation impact per comparator country; 2012-2016; source: Scopus.

View some key findings of the A Global Outlook on Disaster Science report in our infographic and white paper. Follow the conversation by joining our Mendeley group. You can also access the Elsevier data behind the report here, and find details about the search profiles used to define the publication sets analyzed in Appendix D.