Introduction: the need for field research on terrorism



Publication Details

A. Dolnik, 'Introduction: the need for field research on terrorism' in A. Dolnik(ed), Conducting Terrorism Field Research: A Guide (2013) 1-14.

Additional Publication Information

This book offers a detailed and practically oriented guide to the challenges of conducting terrorist fieldwork. The past decade has seen an explosion of research into terrorism. However, field research on terrorism has traditionally been surrounded by many myths, and has been called anything from "necessary" and "crucial" to "dangerous", "unethical" and "impossible". While there is an increasing interest among terrorism specialists in conducting such research, there is no single volume providing prospective field researchers with a guideline to such work. Conducting Terrorism Field Research aims to fill this gap and offers a collection of articles from experienced authors representing different risk groups, disciplines, methodological approaches, regional specializations, and other context-specific aspects. Each contributor provides a road-map to their own research, describing planning and preparation phases, the formalities involved in getting into conflict zones and gaining access to sources. The end product is a 'how to' guide to field research on terrorism, which will be of much value to terrorism experts and novices alike.


Arguably no other field has witnessed as great an increase in academic output over the last decade as the discipline known as terrorism studies. This has resulted in a greatly enhanced understanding of specific contemporary topics such as al-Qaeda, the radicalization process, terrorist uses of the internet, suicide terrorism, de-radicalization and disengagement from terrorism, and the challenges non-state actors face in acquiring and weaponizing chemical and biological agents. But while this exponential increase in terrorism literature has led to a welcome broadening of the scope of perspectives and approaches to studying the phenomenon, comparatively little attention has been devoted to attempts to systematically develop the quality of the terrorism studies discipline itself. For instance, while a new book on terrorism comes out roughly every six hours, only three books evaluating the state of the field and its future directions have been published in the last 12 years. These books, as well as many recent panels of terrorism studies specialists tasked with evaluating the state of the discipline, have unequivocally called for more historical comparative research across different contexts, increased effort to incrementally build on past research conducted by other authors, and above all, the need for more first hand research.

Please refer to publisher version or contact your library.