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New publication on Terrorism studies reflects on future of research

Tealight candles lit for a memorial service

A new publication co-edited by Dr Lara Frumkin, The Open University, Dr John Morrison, Maynooth University, and Professor Andrew Silke, Cranfield University, considers the issues faced by those researching terrorism and counter terrorism. Asking vital questions about the future of terrorism research, this monograph “dives into the current state, emerging methodologies and key trends of this emotive and controversial field.”

A Research Agenda in Terrorism Studies reviews some of the newer methods in the field along with the more established ones. In recent years, academics started using social media and databases to conduct research alongside fieldwork, interviews, and ethnographies.  The book has not lost sight of some of the earlier areas of importance, such as a focus on Critical Terrorism Studies and the terrorists themselves, but also gives attention to victims, victimhood and issues around gender in terrorism and counterterrorism studies.   

Academic and non-academic collaborative approaches to research features prominently with chapters on working with the business sector and, separately, law enforcement.  Across the chapters, ethics is addressed in terms of the rights, safety, and vulnerabilities of all parties involved in terrorism studies. 


In the aftermath of 9/11, research on terrorism and counterterrorism increased dramatically.  Questions arose as to whether that level of research would be maintained and if the cross-disciplinary nature of the research would continue.  Over 20 years on, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding ‘yes’.

Research in this field has progressed over time. Originally it was a niche area with a small, dedicated group of researchers with little funding.  Emphasis was initially on particular methods, for example, field studies or ethnographies, however in the past few decades the field broadened its research.

This has included consideration of different terrorist groups, definitions of what terrorism is, and a critical approach, known as Critical Terrorism Studies. With the massive expansion of interest in terrorism studies, a number of researchers flooded the field, yielding the healthy inter-disciplinary field of terrorism studies we have today. 

Research in terrorism and counterterrorism has been challenging, emotive and sometimes dangerous.  Until 9/11, much of the terrorism and counterterrorism work was found on the fringes of scientific research. Now, it produces varied outputs from multiple inter- and intra-disciplinary perspectives, with attention to methods, cultural and political contexts.  This book reflects on where and what the current research is addressing and concludes with predictions about the future directions of terrorism studies.   

Research links

A Research Agenda for Terrorism Studies- available via the Elgar Online website

OU Library access: A Research Agenda for Terrorism Studies- available via ProQuest eBook Collection (requires OU sign in to view)

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