Introduction
As Human Rights (HR) practitioners we manage large volumes of information from
different sources, mostly cases about HR violations. Although we understand what
information is relevant and how to collect it, it is not always easy to find the most effective
way to organise it. While the advancement of technology invites us to overcome tradicional
data models, we are not familiar on how to take advantage of it.
This guide is intended to boost your team up at the time of building a database. No matter
the platform you will use, as a first step we need to decide which data to collect and how to
organise it. This will determine the kind of analysis that we will be able to perform and,
thus, the insights that we will be able to deliver to our recipients.

How to determine your information needs?
The information needs assessment is the basis of a successful documentation work, as it
determines the data we need and the best way to organise it. This process should be
carried out at the beginning of the project, considering several elements, such as:
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The objectives of the documentation work: what is the data for? What is the core of
your database? What do you want to capture? What questions should it answer?

●

The type of data to be stored in the database: Is it quantitative or qualitative data? Is
it numbers, texts, images, videos? Is there sensitive data?

●

The kind of outputs that you want to produce: statistics, reports, graphic reports,
storytelling, etc.

●

The type of analysis you are going to perform in the database: counts, lists, case
summaries, ad-hoc queries, etc.

●

The users’ needs: accessibility, automated functionalities, outputs as the ones
mentioned above, etc.

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The kind and amount of data you are going to collect, paying attention to quality and
quantity.

●

The available resources: time, financial, technology, personnel, etc.
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