Multiple Systems Estimation: Collection, Cleaning and Canonicalization of Data

<< Previous post: MSE: The Basics Q3. What are the steps in an MSE analysis? Q4. What does data collection look like in the human rights context? What kind of data do you collect? Q5. [In depth] Do you include unnamed or anonymous victims in the matching process? Q6. What do you mean by "cleaning" and "canonicalization?" Q7. [In depth] What are some of the challenges of canonicalization? (more…)

Read More

Multiple Systems Estimation: The Basics

Multiple systems estimation, or MSE, is a family of techniques for statistical inference. MSE uses the overlaps between several incomplete lists of human rights violations to determine the total number of violations. In this blogpost, and four more to follow, I’ll answer both conceptual and practical questions about this important method. (In posts to follow, questions that refer to specific statistical procedures or debates will be marked, "In depth.") (more…)

Read More

How we make sure that nobody is counted twice: A peek into HRDAG's record de-duplication

HRDAG is currently evaluating the quality and completeness of the Kosovo Memory Book of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) in Belgrade, Serbia. The objective of the Kosovo Memory Book (KMB) is to commemorate every single person who fell victim to armed conflict in Kosovo from 1998 to 2000, either through death or disappearance. While building and reviewing their database, one of the things that HLC has to do is “record linkage,” a process also known as “matching.” Matching determines whether two records are the same people (“a match”) or different people ...

Read More

Transitional Justice in Syria: Accountability and Reconciliation Conference

I spent last weekend in Istanbul at an excellent conference organized by the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS). The conference included numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Syria as well as international human rights researchers and advocates. Families of victims told their stories, data collection groups discussed the challenges, and need, to document violations, transitional justice experts worried about infrastructure such as the police force and judicial system, and local leaders pledged to work together for peace. I was ...

Read More


As of today, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) is an independent* non-profit! It's been a long time coming, and we're delighted to have gotten to this point. HRDAG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that applies rigorous science to the analysis of human rights violations around the world; for more information, see our About Us page. Benetech has spun out the scientific and statistical part of the Human Rights Program to HRDAG. The spinout includes (as staff) me -- Patrick Ball -- and Dr Megan Price, as well as our many part-time scientific and field ...

Read More

Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.


Get our newsletter