Syrian Archive
Syrian Archive


Unveiling the Power of Open Source Data: The Syrian Archive's Methodology

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    Table Of Contents

  • Discover our methodology:
  • 1- Collection
  • 2- Archiving
  • 3- Analysis
  • 4. Sharing 

In an era defined by digital interconnectedness, information saturates our daily lives, readily accessible with a tap on our screens. The term “open source data” has likely crossed your path, especially in the realm of social media. But what precisely does it entail, and why should it matter to you?

Open source data refers to information openly available to the public, often found on the internet. This encompasses a significant amount of content, including social media posts, videos, and various online resources. And anyone can dive in and access information without restrictions. 

Imagine the potential when investigators leverage this vast data pool for open source investigations, particularly in risky locations or areas with restricted access. This becomes a crucial resource for independent journalists, international news agencies, UN investigation bodies, and global human rights organizations.

Picture this scenario: an ordinary user’s social media video becomes a valuable piece of evidence contributing to a human rights violation or war crimes case.

That is where the Syrian Archive’s role comes into the picture. We use verified user-generated content to aid in criminal case-building and human rights research. The Syrian Archive meticulously preserves the open-source documentation of creators, witnesses, and victims, allowing for the reconstruction of memories and paving the way for justice and accountability. 

Discover our methodology:

1- Collection

Researchers identify and collect open source information relevant to Syrian Archive’s objectives through 3 online processes:

  • General monitoring: Researchers conduct activities aligned with the program’s objectives, maintaining updated records of monitoring activities and sites.
  • Inquiry-specific searching: Projects driven by specific research questions are pursued, and researchers collect relevant open source information related to these inquiries.
  • Automated archiving: Syrian Archive maintains a vetted “source book” of channels and accounts that consistently post relevant information and are automatically archived. This list is frequently reviewed and updated.

All collected information during monitoring and search is then submitted for preservation.

2- Archiving

Our  secure preservation tools and methodology ensure that collected content is not lost if it is taken offline. 

Syrian Archive researchers submit the content for preservation by our in-house tool, Diwan. Diwan – which in Arabic means “register” or “small book for taking notes” – was developed in collaboration with accountability mechanisms, other archival organizations, lawyers and journalists. Preserving the content in this way helps us to secure the data’s integrity and prove the reliability of the archive’s records – both of which are essential if we want to use the archives for evidence.

The archived materials and associated metadata also preserved with each link are then available to Syrian researchers for review via our in-house archive interface and data analysis platform, Elfehrest, which means “the index” in Arabic. This platform is specifically designed to facilitate open source information analysis and archive-building.

3- Analysis

At the analysis stage of work, Syrian Archive researchers have three main tasks: verification, investigative analysis, and data analysis.

Verification and investigative analysis involve detailed, technical examinations of the collected information to assess its reliability and – usually – in order to answer the key questions of any investigation: where, when, what, who, and how?

Tagging and data analysis involve organizing the archive by meaningful information to reveal insightful patterns in the data. By tagging the archived materials for key information, Syrian Archive researchers potentially uncover larger trends and patterns in the collected information.

A well-organised archive could support data analysis that speaks to:

  • Geographical or time-based trends
  • Perpetrator strategies
  • Command structures, areas of operations, and other actor mapping
  • Incident or base crime patterns
  • Patterns of circumstantial indicators of less-documented violations in open source information, like sexual violence
  • Information that may be corroborative (or not) of witness testimony
  • The contextual elements of international crimes
  • And more!

4. Sharing 

The resulting research is then presented in various ways such as public investigations,  public datasets, as search results, detailed investigation reports and more.


The Syrian Archive’s commitment to open source investigation, backed by a robust and rigorous methodology, exemplifies the transformative potential of leveraging digital data for justice and accountability.


Syrian Archive

The Syrian Archive is fully independent and accepts no money from governments directly involved in the Syrian conflict. We are seeking individual donations to carry out our work. Please consider supporting our work through our Patreon page.

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