Data User Guide


This section of the website provides information on how to cite and use data provided through the website. There are several ways to access information in AidData: the Dashboard, the Research Release, and all Versioned Datasets. The live dashboard provides the most current data available through AidData. The research release provides a thorough comprehensive snapshot of the data for use by researchers and others who need a static copy of the information in AidData. All versioned datasets gives access to other useful datasets that may not be included in the main databases.

Download the complete AidData User's Guide

Citing AidData

AidData should be cited in any online or print communications or publications that use information from the AidData database. Simply cite ‘Source:’.

For academic purposes, please cite aid data accessed through using the following citation:

  • Tierney, Michael J., Daniel L. Nielson, Darren G. Hawkins, J. Timmons Roberts, Michael G. Findley, Ryan M. Powers, Bradley Parks, Sven E. Wilson, and Robert L. Hicks. 2011. More Dollars than Sense: Refining Our Knowledge of Development Finance Using AidData. World Development 39 (11): 1891-1906.

For academic purposes, please cite AidData's geocoding work and/or methodology using the following citation:

  • Strandow, Daniel, Michael Findley, Daniel Nielson, and Joshua Powell. 2011. The UCDP-AidData codebook on Geo-referencing Foreign Aid. Version 1.1. Uppsala Conflict Data Program. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University.

Terms and Conditions

By using this site or downloading data from AidData, users agree to the following:

  • To use and/or download the data only for private or personal, non-commercial purposes;
  • To cite the source of the data; and
  • To accept disclaimers and restrictions of rights and liability concerning the data.

Please refer to the AidData User’s Guide for additional guidance on usage rights and obligations.

General Disclaimer

Neither AidData, nor its host institution the College of William and Mary, claim ownership of content published or made available by third parties on, or resulting from the use of information obtained through, this portal, its services and forums.

AidData lists development activities as collected from aid agencies and other sources in the development community. You (the user) are therefore individually responsible for compliance with the terms of use of any individual data owner or provider. Much of the data in the AidData database is republished with permission from the OECD’s CRS. The entire risk as to the use, quality, and performance of the CRS Dataset is with the user.

Due to the number of sources from which information on the portal is obtained and the inherent hazards of electronic distribution, there may be delays, omissions, or inaccuracies in the portal’s content. AidData and its host institutions cannot guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or legality of such content or linked web site, and we disclaim all responsibility for your use of any inaccurate, incomplete, or illegal content contained in or linked from our portal.

Please refer to the AidData User’s Guide for additional guidance on terms of use and disclaimers.

‍Field Descriptions

Records in the AidData main table and research releases contain over one hundred fields, but many of these are tailored for specialized project reports or research questions. For a complete list of fields and descriptions, please see the AidData User's Guide. Most users will find the most useful information in the following fields:

Donor name: Name of the donor country or multilateral organization. For more detailed information, use Implementing Agency and/or Financing Agency.

Recipient name: Name of the recipient country or region. In some cases, Private Recipient, Beneficiary or Borrower may contain relevant information.

Year: Commitment year. Other date fields may also contain useful values, but Year is always populated.

Commitment Amount: Amount the donor has agreed to provide for the duration of the project, often disbursed over the following years. Note that there are actually several commitment amount fields.

Nominal/Current: As reported by the donor, in the reported currency. Current (USD): As reported by the donor, converted to nominal USD at the average exchange rate in effect in the commitment year. Constant (USD): The reported amount converted to USD and adjusted for inflation and exchange rate changes. Constant amounts are all presented in USD2009 (i.e. at 2009 prices and exchange rates). See the AidData User's Guide for conversion and deflation methods.

Title, Short Description, Long Description: These fields contain descriptive information as provided by the donor. Long descriptions range from only a few sentences to several paragraphs in length.

Purpose Code: AidData has developed a granular system of sector coding, which expands the OECD’s purpose code scheme. However, coding is still underway. AidData researchers have coded projects from non-CRS sources and work is underway to add these codes to CRS-sourced data as well, but new codes have not yet been released for CRS projects. Therefore, CRS purpose codes for CRS-sourced records and AidData activity codes for non-CRS records should be used complementarily. See the AidData User's Guide for a full description of AidData’s codes and how to use them.

Data Sources and Coverage

The information available through AidData comes from a number of sources, including the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System, annual reports and project documents published by donors, web-accessible database and project documents, and spreadsheets and data exports obtained directly from donor agencies.

AidData Coding Scheme

AidData researchers have concluded that attaching only a single sector code often fails to capture the wide variety of development objectives and projects. AidData has developed a coding scheme to address the complexity of such multi-purpose projects that allows researchers to capture their granularity as well as determine the project’s dominant purpose.The AidData coding schemes is an extension of the widely used OECD CRS purpose codes. The two differ in a few minor ways: where the OECD system seeks to capture a single overall purpose of any given aid project, AidData attempts to capture the overall purpose and each individual activity. Each project in the AidData coding system is coded for an overall purpose and at least one more detailed activity code, creating a more detailed picture of development assistance.

Purpose Codes

Just as for the CRS, the AidData coding scheme assigns one purpose code for each project, which represents the dominant sector targeted by the project. The purpose codes for AidData’s scheme are the same as the CRS’s “main codes” except for a few additional purpose codes that clarify and add detail. Detail is added using activity codes. If the project fosters more than one sector, then the project will have a multi-sector purpose code. 

Activity Codes

The AidData scheme is also useful at a more detailed level. During the coding process, coders attach activity codes to each project based on information provided by the donor in the title and description fields. The activity codes for the new scheme are derived from the “Clarifications/ Additional notes on coverage” section of Annex 5 as well as the “detailed codes” in the CRS coding scheme. These activity codes are a subset of their respective purpose codes. For example, the activity code 11220.03: Basic education infrastructure is found under 11220: Primary education. Every project is assigned at least one activity code, but there is no limit on the number of activity codes that can be associated with a particular record.

However, these codes should not be used for financial aggregation. Activity codes are assigned n-to-one on financial records, but there is no way to reliably divide a financial amount by n activity codes (i.e., if a project’s total commitment was $1,500,000, it is unknown how these funds were allocated among n activities). Instead, these codes should be used as flags for users who wish to isolate projects with a specific activity.

Download the full AidData Codebook here.