The First Tranche
AidData's Blog
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Brooke Escobar
Associate Director, Chinese Development Finance Program
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Announcing AidData’s Core 3.0 Research Release

AidData’s Core Research Release (Version 3.0) is our most comprehensive dataset tracking international development finance.

April 25, 2016
Brooke Russell, Scott Stewart

AidData is pleased to announce that our Core Research Release (Version 3.0) is now available for public download.

AidData’s Core Research Release (Version 3.0) is our most comprehensive dataset tracking international development finance; it tracks all known project-level international development finance activities from bilateral and multilateral aid organizations—including donors that do not report to OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). It also captures multiple forms of development finance, including Official Development Assistance (ODA), Other Official Flows (OOF), Export Credits, and Equity Investments.

Importantly, AidData’s Core Research Release (Version 3.0) records financial flows as they are reported by Western and non-Western donors. It does not record international development finance as recorded by the institutions that receive and manage such flows. AidData separately generates and publishes datasets that track development finance flows from the perspectives of finance and planning ministries in recipient countries (charged with managing these incoming flows). For more on this crucial distinction, see AidData’s Data Management Plan.

Another key feature of AidData’s Core Research Release (Version 3.0) is that it is fixed and time-stamped so that that users can produce, review and replicate their results vis-a-vis a static version of AidData’s (dynamic) core database (which is constantly being improved and updated at It is also provided in a flat-table structure, which makes it easier for many users to analyze.

Key Features

AidData’s Core Research Release (Version 3.0) contains several new features, including:

  • Updated data through 2013 for our largest donors.
  • A detailed Readme file that gives a comprehensive overview of the dataset, provides field definitions, and source information to make the data more usable and accessible.
  • Over 60% of the records in the dataset (nearly one million rows) has been categorized according to AidData’s Activity Coding Scheme by using a rigorous double-blind coding and arbitration methodology.  

Summary Statistics

  • Years: 1947-2013
  • Donors: 96
  • Total Projects/Rows: 1,561,039
  • Total Variables: 67                   
  • Total Commitments: $7,042,232,727,299
  • Total Rows Activity Coded: 941,298
  • Percentage of Dataset Activity Coded: 60.2%
  • Percentage of Dataset with Purpose Codes (Coalesced): 99.9%

Upcoming Research Releases

Going forward, AidData hopes to produce standardized Research Releases for its core database twice a year. We expect to release an updated Core Research Release (Version 3.1) in the 3rd quarter of 2016, which will contain some additional features, including the following:

  • Over 9,000 rows of project-level data from non-DAC bilateral donors.
  • Updated multilateral data for donors that do not report to the OECD CRS.
  • 2014 CRS data.
  • A complete activity coding classification against all records in the dataset  using our automated activity coder, which applies the AidData coding scheme through machine learning scripts.
  • Improvements in record completeness, including imputed flow class designations (ODA, OOF, etc). 

For additional information, please refer to the 3.0 Research Release Readme file and the Research Release Product Definition (found in AidData’s Data Management Plan).  In addition, we would love to hear what features of the Research Release are more or less useful, and how we can make our research releases better in the future. AidData strives to make all its data products as accessible and usable to our users as possible, so please let us know how we are doing by emailing us at Feel free to send in comments, questions, or suggestions on data structure, content, or sources.

Editor's note: This blog post was originally published on the First Tranche on April 25, 2016, but was republished today due to changes made in the 3.0 Research Release.

Brooke Escobar is Associate Director of AidData's Chinese Development Finance Program.

Scott Stewart is AidData’s Chief Data Officer.