• Actual questions. RQs should be formulated as questions. The interrogative form “how” is used most often to understand the impact of solutions on organizations and/or people. Therefore, it is suggested to use this form.

 

  • Gaps. RQs must address a distinct gap. Each research question must address only one gap of DRIVER+ and must not subsume multiple gaps nor exceed the scope of the addressed gap. 

 

  • The dimensions. RQs should cover the performance measurement dimensions of Trials. In the context of the research question, the Trial dimension is concerned automatically. The task of the Trial owner is to make explicit its implications. As far the as the crisis management dimension is concerned, it refers to specific CM objectives (e.g. improve shared situation awareness). The solution dimension deals with the role of the solutions: does a solution have the potential to drive innovation in CM? In general, each solution could be measured by solution specific objectives (e.g. user friendliness, run time, etc.), but the Trial owner needs to be aware of the relation between the solution and its contribution to the central dimension, being the CM dimension. This means that the user-friendliness aspect of a solution is not relevant as such. It is only relevant if this aspect is innovative and effective in managing daily operations. In addressing all three dimensions, a question needs to comprise what is to be achieved, given by the overall objective, the aimed impact on crisis management and the opportunity for solutions to provide innovative value.

 

  • Scenario and solutions. RQs must not be scenario-driven. Scenario refers to a fictive storyboard in which the solutions are assessed. In order to define such a scenario, the objective and research question(s) of the Trial need to be defined. It is therefore not possible that the research question is formulated after the scenario design. In other words, the research question is not a reformulation of the scenario in a question format. If, due to practical reasons, a scenario is drafted before the research questions are final, the scenario needs to be revised based on the research question and, if needed, changed accordingly. Accordingly, the research question is solution independent. However, the solution should have a relation to a specific application context and a corresponding problem or gap. Thus, the relevance of the research questions is ensured.

 

  • Measurable. RQs need to be answerable and measurable by the Trial. While formulating the research question, one needs to ensure that the Trial is capable of answering the question. More often than not, yes or no answers respond to generic (not measurable) questions. Independent from the solutions being tested, the assessment of the question has to be considered in the later Trial design. A detailed and specific evaluation plan can be defined later in reference to the related CM objectives and trialed solutions.

 

  • Participatory approach. RQs must be understood and approved by all Trial stakeholders. The research question is not only defined by the Trial owner, but in addition, it is crucial and mission critical for the Trial to ensure that all involved stakeholders understand and approve the relevance of the questions. To facilitate this, the writing style of the formulation must be end-user focused and specifically accepted by those involved.

 

  • Main and sub-research questions. RQs can be organized in a multi-level, hierarchical structure. A leading research question fitting to the Trial objective can be deconstructed into several sub-questions, each addressing a more precise aspect. This multi-level, hierarchical structure can be detailed as far as needed in order to ease the planning and design of the Trial and the evaluation of results.

 

  • Simple, but not easy to answer. Simplicity refers to the overall answerability of the question in line with the criterion revolving around participatory approach. RQs should provide new insights and findings in terms of the three dimensions mentioned above.