Research Methods

Our interdisciplinary team of more than 25 faculty and staff helps international development organizations more effectively track, target, coordinate, and evaluate their investments. We use precise data and rigorous methods to address the question of: who is doing what, where, and to what effect?


Geocoding tags the locations of specific development projects and activities, allowing people to see who is funding what and where within a given country. AidData’s geocoding methodology has become a global standard, incorporated into the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard.

Methodology Documentation:

Geospatial Impact Evaluation (GIE)

The growing availability of geo-referenced data on development investments and outcomes has opened up new opportunities to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why at a substantially lower time and financial cost. GIEs can combine this geo-referenced investment, outcome, and covariate data with quasi-experimental methods to measure the intended (or unintended) impacts of development programs. 

Methodology Documentation:

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Coding

Tracking and analyzing funding for the SDGs will be central to measuring the next 15 years of development progress—yet aid reporting systems do not currently capture this information. AidData is developing a standardized coding schema to systematically track the resource envelope of financing going to each of the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets.

Methodology Documentation:

Tracking Underreported Financials Flows (TUFF)

AidData has pioneered an innovative, open-source methodology to provide a more complete picture of non-traditional donors' development finance activities. Initially created to track Chinese development finance to Africa, AidData is now applying the TUFF methodology to better understand the activities of both non-DAC and DAC development partners, when there is incomplete information in public domain. 

Methodology Documentation: