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Abstract

Humanitarian operations research holds a considerable allure for researchers, often promising interesting contexts to develop and extend current theory, large pools of data to validate theory and generate new insights, and, more generally, the opportunity to conduct “research that matters”. For many of these reasons, we embarked on several research initiatives over the past several years with mixed results. In this tutorial, we draw on several studies (some abandoned) to explore the use of information and communication technologies for humanitarian purposes, and we synthesize and highlight the distinct features of humanitarian operations research. Specifically, we draw attention to differences between “the process” of conducting these studies relative to traditional research and focus on challenges and opportunities for researchers.

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