About Open Source Research

Online Open Source information refers to any information that is publicly available on the Internet. Common types of online open source information include

  • online news articles
  • expert and NGO reports
  • social media content
  • image and sound recordings
  • geospatial imagery and mapping data
  • documents and databases
  • public administrative records and leaked confidential documents

In the Lab, we teach students how to collate and synthesize this information systemically for the purposes of research. Students learn and use techniques such as the following:

  • Discovery: conducting targeted online searches to find statements, videos, images or other open source information to support human rights cases.
  • Geolocation: identifying the coordinates of a video or image in order to verify its authenticity.
  • Chronolocation: identifying the exact or approximate time in which a video or image was taken.
  • Network analysis: identifying the interrelationship between perpetrators, victims, organizations and governments.
  • Digital mapping: producing data visualizations that can expose connections between human rights violations, locations, perpetrators and the relevance of these data points.
  • Chain of command: identifying the rank and duties of officials in a particular military, government or corporate organization in order to decipher accountability.