An Introduction to (Ethical) Open Source Research Skills


02/05/2024 - 10/05/2024

Organised by:

University of Liverpool (an NCRM Centre Partner)


Ray Adams Row Farr


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


Dr Billie-Gina Thomason

video conference logo

Venue: Online


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.

This exciting opportunity to engage with Open Source Investigation is open to anyone interested in using OSI in any part of their work, whether a PhD student, Early Career Researcher, researcher in the field or academic. This is an intensive course and there is preparation and follow-up work expected from you. If you are unable to commit to the course in its entirely (2 days over 2 weeks) then you are unable to apply.


Part 1: Sessions 1  & 2 [2nd & 3rd May 2024]

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.


  • Understand what an open source investigation is and how it can be used
  • Have a working understanding of the risks of conducting an open source investigation, and how to mitigate them
  • Identify and engage with the ethical challenges of open source investigation
  • Understand the key stages and methods of open source investigation, from discovery to verification. Including:
  • be able to conduct effective searches across a variety of social media platforms and search engines, and
  • understand what is meant by verification and have working knowledge of some verification techniques (reverse image search, metadata collection, an introduction to geolocation)

Topics covered:

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


Part 2: Sessions 3 & 4 [9th & 10th May 2024]

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


Applying for a place

This course requires an application for suitability for the course with the deadline being Monday 1st April 2024. 


If you are interested in attending, but have missed the application deadline, then please contact Dr Billie-Gina Thomason at to discuss the options available to you. 



The fee per teaching day is £35 per day for students / £75 per day for staff working for academic institutions, Research Councils and other recognised research institutions, registered charity organisations and the public sector / £250 per day for all other participants. In the event of cancellation by the delegate a full refund of the course fee is available up to two weeks prior to the course. NO refunds are available after this date. If it is no longer possible to run a course due to circumstances beyond its control, NCRM reserves the right to cancel the course at its sole discretion at any time prior to the event. In this event every effort will be made to reschedule the course. If this is not possible or the new date is inconvenient a full refund of the course fee will be given. NCRM shall not be liable for any costs, losses or expenses that may be incurred as a result of its cancellation of a course, including but not limited to any travel or accommodation costs. The University of Southampton’s Online Store T&Cs also continue to apply.

Website and registration:




Frameworks for Research and Research Designs, Research Management and Impact, Research Ethics, Research Skills, Communication and Dissemination, Open Source Investigation

Related publications and presentations:

Frameworks for Research and Research Designs
Research Management and Impact
Research Ethics
Research Skills, Communication and Dissemination

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