Data Sets and Research Methods
ISD’s research is data-driven and our pioneering analysis of extremism, polarisation and disinformation informs all our work.
The meticulous collection and analysis of primary data is vital to understanding the nature of the challenge that we face and plays a significant role in our overall research efforts. ISD researchers provide thought leadership on key trends within extremist movements and granular, on-the-ground insights that inform our programmes, training models and government policy advisory worldwide.
From our work on the far-right to the phenomenon of ISIS and anti-ISIS foreign terrorist fighters, from lone actor terrorists to women joining ISIS, ISD’s research has helped to reveal previously unseen challenges, enabling us and others to design effective and forward thinking programmes.
As the volume of counter-extremism programming grows, evaluating the impact of our programmes becomes ever more important. ISD’s research team includes highly experienced evaluation experts, enabling us to design robust impact assessment frameworks for programmes operating across the world in a wide range of contexts and sectors. Combining evaluative rigour with counter-extremism experience, ISD continually works to develop innovative new evaluation methods for both online and offline campaigns, programmes and interventions.
We combine qualitative and quantitative methodologies with world-leading expertise to conduct both online and offline research. Our research has been consistently ahead of the curve, predicting developments in extremism and informing global responses to emerging challenges for over a decade.
ISD is one of the world’s leading think tanks in the construction and analysis of primary datasets. This includes the largest database of social media profiles of women who have travelled from the West to support ISIS and their affiliates in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and the world’s largest database of those who travel to conflict zones to fight against ISIS.
ISD’s measurement and evaluation efforts seek to set the standard in programme evaluation, developing the quality and scale of the counter-extremism evidence base. Our digital evaluation models provide us with real-time data on the impact of counter-extremism activities, allowing us to develop and adjust to meet complex emerging threats.
ISD was a lead partner in the construction of Professor Jytte Klausen’s Western Jihadism Project, and in partnership with RUSI, Chatham House and Leiden University, constructed a database that details all of the lone actor terrorist incidents that have taken place in Europe since 2000. This dataset contains over 70 variables, including biographic information, on a group of 120 perpetrators.
ISD Senior Research Fellow, Amarnath Amarasingam, has constructed the world’s largest collection of interviews with ISIS fighters who travelled to Syria and Iraq since the group’s inception, revealing the motivations of these individuals and the risks they pose if they return.
ISD is currently building databases of extreme far-right influencers online, as well as amplifiers of state-supported disinformation.
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ISD’s research team
Executive Director; Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA)
Executive Director; Africa, the Middle East and Asia (AMEA)Follow @MoustafaAyad
Resident Senior Fellow
Resident Senior FellowFollow @@rashadzali1
Head of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism
Head of Policy & Research, Counter-ExtremismFollow @@MiloComerford
Resident Senior Fellow, Digital Integrity
Resident Senior Fellow, Digital IntegrityFollow @JioreC
Head of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate Movements
Head of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate MovementsFollow @@jacob_p_davey
Head of Digital Policy
Head of Digital PolicyFollow @@HenryTuck
Senior Digital Research Manager
Senior Digital Research Manager
Senior Manager, Policy & Research
Senior Manager, Policy & ResearchFollow @@JakobGuhl
Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager, ISD Germany
Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager, ISD GermanyFollow @@HelenaSchwert
Research ManagerFollow @CecileNSimmons