How do casualty recorders deal with disagreement between sources?

When using multiple sources to corroborate data, casualty recorders will need means of dealing with differing information about the same event or victim within a set of source documents, such as prioritising certain sources, or reporting disagreement through numerical ranges.

Solutions include:

  • Prioritising certain sources: this links to source evaluation. Casualty recorders can choose to report the information provided by the source they consider the most reliable out of the disagreeing sources.
  • Reporting disagreement: this can be done for example through the use of numerical ranges where there are discrepancies in the number of deaths reported for one event, allowing the reporting of the lowest to the highest number of casualties.
  • Using categories that avoid or defer resolution of the disagreement: this would include terms such as “unknown” or “unconfirmed” or “uncorroborated”.
  • Keeping cases pending until there is more information: this allows casualty recorders to not lose track of an event but provide for the emergence of new information which could help clarify details and so reach the recorder’s minimum standards confirmation.
  • Dialogue with sources: this will not be possible in all cases and must be subjected to standards of safety both for staff and witnesses.

Standards for Casualty Recording, 2016, p. 25