Terrorism Data Bases

A Comparison of Missions, Methods, and Systems

by William W. Fowler


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A review of eight terrorism databases which examines (1) the relationship between the use of terrorism data and the design of the databases; (2) the scope and content of the databases; (3) the structure of terrorism data; and (4) the systems used for retrieval and analysis of the data. Some conclusions are drawn about the state of the art in the design and implementation of terrorism databases. The greatest potential weakness of current data collection efforts is the development of chronologies to the exclusion of other types of databases and the lack of rigor in incident sampling. While chronologies do help analysts and researchers in addressing fundamental issues in the analysis of terrorism, they may not contain information relevant to many important questions. Data collection efforts have matured to the point that the development of different kinds of databases would be worthwhile.

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