• 10 Pathways of Investigation

    Our curriculum is a comprehensive learning programme that covers the full spectrum of online and offline research techniques. Its rigorous approach enables credible investigations that prove the veracity of their work through transparent methods and evidence. Developed with Exposing the Invisible (a Tactical Tech project), it is free to adapt and modify under a CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED license.

    News Reports / Academic Research

    Searching news stories and academic papers can help you find other people who are passionate about your inquiry and might have already answered your questions. You can use existing publications to find story ideas, clues, sources, and build a timeline of events. It’s important to look at how an academic study, news report or other publication was produced to understand if it is credible.

    Social Media Research

    Social media is helpful for identifying relationships among people, finding eyewitnesses, tracing the origin of viral content, and spotting inauthentic profiles. Learn strategies for identifying manipulated photos and videos. Think about how people use a platform and what you can learn from it: a lavish holiday shared on TikTok? A bad product review on Amazon? Ex-colleagues on LinkedIn?

    Maps & Geolocation

    If you can’t visit a place in person, try looking at it from above. Satellite images and maps can reveal how a location has changed over time. They can also give you clues about where a photo or video was taken. Plotting information on a map can help you make comparisons across places or regions. Sharing investigative findings on a map shows people how their location is affected.

    Online Public Records / Databases

    Governments and other institutions keep records about official activities and processes like plans, permits, and fines. Searchable databases of these records might be available online at little or no cost. Learning the rules about what information should be recorded will help you interpret mistakes or missing details. Cross-check records against other information sources to confirm their accuracy.

    Advanced Online Research

    Uncover clues by gathering information in the public domain on the internet. Learn advanced strategies to search for elusive documents, preserve webpages as evidence, and profile people and companies using online open sources. Use artificial intelligence to automate some parts of your inquiry.

    Interviewing / Developing Sources

    Find out who knows about the issue you’re investigating and who might be willing to talk. Learn tactics to approach people humbly for information and help. From hostile sources to victims, develop strategies to interact with people safely and ethically, and build long-term relationships with your sources.

    Requesting Government Records

    Governments and other institutions keep records about official activities and processes. If the information you want isn’t already online, you might be able to ask for it with a Freedom of Information or Access to Information request. Find out who has the information you want, how to ask for it, and what to do if your request is denied.

    Surveys / Crowdsourcing

    Seeking input from many people can give you insights from their lived experience or speed up simple research tasks. Strategise how you will curate information and manage interactions with your “crowd”. Consider what documents and information is readily available to them, how they can share it safely and easily, and how you will verify its accuracy.

    Audio-Video Witnessing / Field Research

    When you visit a place or you’re a direct witness of an event, your five senses can be very effective investigative tools – even smell. Photos, video, and physical samples can help keep a record of what you experience. But you must document certain details to preserve these materials as evidence.

    Developing Data

    Databases can help you see patterns across multiple cases or events. You might be able to find an existing dataset or build one yourself. Visualisations can help you tell stories with your data. In large datasets, look for common characteristics from past cases where things went wrong to anticipate new cases worthy of further investigation.

    Get in touch
    The Seek Initiative provides citizen investigators, community activists, NGOs, and funders with training and advice to develop investigations using our 10 Pathways.