Using hierarchies requires recorders to split up a piece of information into general categories, then split these into more specific categories. The most basic level at which a recorder would categorise 'weapons used' might be into aerial and ground attacks.
The next level in the hierarchy might be to divide these two categories into the general types of weapons deployed from the air or on the ground:
- aerial attack – gunfire, explosive weapons, or other;
- ground attack – gunfire, explosive weapons, mines, or other weapons and causes of death.
Developing universal hierarchies or sets for pieces of information like weapons (which might be defined universally more easily than other pieces of information like perpetrators or status, being more technical in nature) could be a useful topic for discussion when considering issues of standards and standardisation in casualty recording. A disadvantage of using hierarchies is that they force each category to be a subset of just one ‘parent’ umbrella category. This might not always reflect all the aspects of any given situation that a recorder may wish to capture. For example, a recorder may wish to have umbrella analysis categories of ‘explosive weapons’ and ‘suicide attacks’. A ‘suicide bombing’ would fit under both of these. A more accurate way to construct the data model in relation to weapons in this case would be to consider weapon types as sets of categories, with subsets of more specific weapon categories within them.
DEFINITION AND CATEGORISATION IN CASUALTY RECORDING, pp. 30-31