Databases of transitional justice mechanisms and contexts: Comparing research purposes and design

L. Mallinder*, Catherine O'Rourke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Over the past decade, scholars researching the causes, forms and impacts of transitional justice (TJ) mechanisms have increasingly turned to cross-national databases to document cases, facilitate comparisons and develop causal analyses. Such research has been heralded as having the potential to address significant knowledge gaps in the field. However, to date, database research has produced patchy and contradictory findings. To interrogate why these differences have arisen, this article draws on a new database relating to the key elements of research design in 20 databases of TJ mechanisms or transitional contexts. The systematic comparative analysis of these databases finds that they are constructed for a range of distinct purposes, which in turn shape different approaches to research design and lead to divergent findings. The article argues that greater reflection on the diverse purposes of databases can help scholars appreciate how different forms of databases can be used in an incremental and complementary manner to build knowledge that is persuasive for scholars and practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-515
JournalInternational Journal of Transitional Justice
Issue number3
Early online date10 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptualization
  • Databases
  • Impact assessment
  • Inference
  • Research design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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