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Ethical Open Source Investigation: A deep dive into key skills - Online

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Ethical Open Source Investigation: A Deep Dive into Key Skills is a two-part methodology course which teaches open source skills whilst foregrounding a critical and reflexive approach to open source investigations. You will learn practical skills to evaluate social media content, online databases and satellite images, whilst integrating considerations of ethics, care and power.

This material is developed from the University of Cambridge’s Open Source Investigation for Academics course (which was co-designed by Dr Ella McPherson, Ray Adams Row Farr, Nik Yasikov and Laetitia Maurat) and inspired by the university’s collaboration with Amnesty International as part of their Digital Verification Corps - an international network of universities where students trained in open source investigation contribute to Amnesty’s human rights fact-finding. It brings together long-standing academic considerations of positionality, reflexivity and ethics with a practical introduction to the methodologies of open source investigation. It’s taught by Ray Adams Row Farr, an open source investigator for Amnesty International’s Evidence Lab. She has been researching, training and teaching open source investigation in a human rights context for the past five years.


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Course Leader

Ray Adams Row Farr
Course Description


Over the two days of this first part of the course, you’ll develop your understanding of what open source is and learn the stages involved in the research. On day one, drawing from relevant case studies, you’ll be introduced to open source research, its potential applications and how to engage with your own wellbeing as a researcher. On day two, we’ll build on this ground work by diving into the stages of an open source investigation, split into discovering and verifying content.

Topics covered:

  • What is Open Source Research
  • Vicarious Trauma
  • Discovery
  • Verification (chronolocation, reverse image search)


Over two days in this second part of the course, you’ll build on and deepen the practical and theoretical skills learnt in Part 1 by learning geolocation, archiving and data curation, digital footprints and ethics more broadly. On Day 1 you’ll build on your practical skills verifying content by diving into chronolocation and geolocation, before moving on to consider how to structure and archive content in an open source investigation. On Day 2, we’ll broaden the discussion and bring together all methodological components discussed so far, to think about ethics in the context of open source investigations.

Topics covered:

  • Geolocation
  • Satellite imagery
  • Data Curation
  • Archiving
  • Digital Footprint
  • Ethics


This exciting opportunity to engage with Open Source Investigation is open to anyone, whether a PhD student, Early Career Researcher, researcher in the field, academic or interested in using OSI in any part of your work. This is an intensive four day course and there is preparation and follow-up work expected from you. Please note that you are required to attend both parts of this course, the dates are as follows:

Part I: Thursday 5th October 2023 and Friday 6th October 2023

Part II: Thursday 12th October 2023 and Friday 13th October 2023

This short course will be facilitated online

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