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The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding$
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Philip Alston and Sarah Knuckey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190239480

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190239480.001.0001

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Numbers are Only Human

Numbers are Only Human

Lessons for Human Rights Practitioners from the Quantitative Literacy Movement

Chapter:
(p.355) 17. Numbers are Only Human
Source:
The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding
Author(s):

Brian Root

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190239480.003.0017

Big data, crowdsourcing, satellite imagery, video forensics, crisis-mapping, and interactive data visualizations have now entered the lexicon of human rights practitioners. This is because numbers demand attention. But the first step is to increase the quantitative literacy of human rights practitioners. Reasons for past reluctance to use such methods include the essentially qualitative nature of much of the work and the lack of familiarity with statistical methods. But quantitative analyses are a powerful tool in the human rights practitioner’s methodology toolbox. Statistics allow researchers to reframe and examine topics in order to provide context or insights different from the information gathered in qualitative interviews, with the most common uses of data analysis being to demonstrate the scope, distribution (over geography and/or time), or variance of a human rights problem. As the supply of data increases, it becomes a more desirable component of high quality research and reporting.

Keywords:   big data, crowdsourcing, satellite imagery, video forensics, crisis-mapping, interactive data visualizations, quantitative literacy

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