Working Paper

IDS Working Paper 596

Big Data for Development Studies? An Innovative Methodology

Published on 31 October 2023

This paper makes a foundational methodological contribution to the analysis of big data for development studies.

Big data has revolutionised the natural and applied sciences (and commerce). However, its use within development studies has been comparatively limited. This is despite a clear potential for devising innovative research methodologies to generate new academic knowledge, theory, and empirical insights of practical relevance to the broad field of international development and humanitarian policy, programming, and action. The paper uses the publicly available Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) as a source of near-real-time big data. The aim is to develop an academically robust methodology, that can be replicated and easily modified to suit the needs of a wide development studies scholarship, while also exploring its prospects for generating valuable actionable knowledge, through an established academic–practitioner partnership.

Cite this publication

Lakshman, R.W.D.; te Lintelo, D.J.H.; Ford, H.; Chattat, E. and Senanayake, M. (2023) Big Data for Development Studies? An Innovative Methodology, IDS Working Paper 596, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/IDS.2023.053


Rajith Lakshman

Research Fellow

Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Leader

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In partnership with
ACTED Lebanon World Vision
Supported by
NWO Wotro

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies


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