Sources of information: documents first, people later

Pre-existing documents-not produced by the casualty recorder themselves -often provide a baseline or orientation for follow up with more intensive investigations, including seeking individuals to provide additional documentation.The common pattern for recorders is "documents first - people later."

  • Documents created by others may be collected and assessed relatively quickly and cheaply.
  • Documents may be used to identify the scope of the investigations needed, and to focus the collection of new primary data. Casualty recorders can prioritise their work in areas where pre-existing reports do not provide sufficient detail or corroboration.
  • Large numbers of documents are generated in most conflict situations, which are available for casualty recorders to collect and assess. Reports from professional press agencies are increasingly supplemented by informal citizen publishing (blogs, twitter, Facebook).
  • Some casualty recorders operate after or far away from the conflict events they are documenting. Documents may be accessed across such distances relatively easily, particularly as many are web-based. When the work of a casualty recorder is carried out post-conflict, it is likely that they will use documents produced at an earlier phase.