An inevitable challenge of analyzing large-scale events of human rights violations (e.g. armed conflict, ethnic riots, violent policing) is the quality of data available. Government data as well as data provided by advocates for victims tend to be biased; governments are likely to undermine the actual scale of violation, rights advocates are likely to overestimate. A preferred alternative for scholars studying violence and conflict is newspapers and similar media-based sources. It's a methodology known as event-based media monitoring (EMM). Of course, EMM brings along its own share of challenges: which media sources to track, what information to look for, how to manage the monitoring process, and what to do with the collected information?
A recent report from the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with Human Rights Watch, meticulously evaluates the use of manual and automated EMM systems and offers suggestions allowing the collection of valid and reliable data. It interviews and extensively cites the work Dr Raheel Dhattiwala, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the MnM Centre, for her own data collection strategy that was used to analyze ethnic violence in India as part of a doctoral thesis at Oxford University in 2012. In doing so, the report highlights MnM's principal research priority -- that of adopting rigorous scholarship and new ways of thinking to explain unpredictable sociological phenomena about ethnic and religious communities.
International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding