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Online public databases for Arms Trade Research
IPIS, August 2013

In recent years IPIS has published several publications in collaboration with local African organisations. Such cooperation has allowed us to share know-how from over 30 years of research experience while benefitting from our partnersí networks and understanding of local issues.
Although IPISí research assignments are often limited to a few months, we are increasingly trying to improve our working relationship with organisations and individual researchers in Africa. Through intense collaboration on specific reports, IPIS helps building the capacity of local researchers because the collaboration becomes an exercise. Furthermore, when a report is published, we help local researchers to gain access to stakeholders and interested publics in Europe and the US.
However, to ensure that our relatively short collaborations with local partners have a lasting effect on their know-how and skills, we have developed a series
of learning modules. IPIS teaches the most relevant of these modules during 1-3 days workshop organised at the outset of a new research project. The subsequent execution of joint research guarantees that the partners can immediately practice the skills they have acquired through the workshop during a relevant exercise.
This particular module familiarises arms trade researchers with relevant online databases that are indispensable for investigating arms trafficking. The module aims to help local partners to use the Internet as a source of valuable information, to substantiate their reports with factual data. There is a wide range of public databases on the Internet that contain valuable information, and which can be accessed for free. This module does not aim to offer an exhaustive list of all these publically accessible databases. It rather wishes to introduce our local partners to some tools that we use frequently and consider very useful.
In the beginning these databases are not always that easy to use. Therefore this module explains step by step how the required information can be obtained from each database. To illustrate its usefulness, we will use one or more examples, for each tool or database, that we have used ourselves in the past.
Despite the value of these tools, all of them have their limitations, which we will also describe. It is very important to understand these limitations, as a researcher should always keep these in mind when using the data obtained from these databases.
The IPIS Capacity Building Modules are co-funded by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Division Development Cooperation.

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