Instructions to SVS Coders

  1. Coders should be constantly mindful that they are coding the reports, not the country. They should put aside their own preconceptions about the country and rely solely on the report to make their assessments.

  2. The default score for each cell is a 1. Coders can only provide scores if evidence of a problem is reported.

  3. Coders use all available clues from the reports to identify victims and perpetrators, especially noting categories under which abuses are described (e.g., women, children, or national, racial, ethnic minorities).

  4. All evidence of abuses is drawn from the US State Department Human Rights reports, or from two embedded reports: the International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) and the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIPR). Coders are instructed to directly cut and paste into the spreadsheet all the available evidence for each victim and perpetrator group, double-counting as appropriate.

  5. Coders may add editorial comments [in brackets] to clarify references or draw attention to uncertainties. Otherwise, all text is directly quoted from the reports.

  6. Reports almost always recognize significant problems with underreporting of societal abuses. Despite the challenges, coders nonetheless provide scores based on whatever data is provided, including the assessments presented in the reports. However, where gaps in the data are significant enough to compromise coders’ confidence in their assessment, they are instructed to highlight their concerns by included an asterisk next to the score, or in place of the score in extreme cases.

  7. In each victim category, scores depend less on the absolute number of people effected by abuses than by the percentage of that group that is subject to abuse. By contrast, in the composite score, not all categories are counted equally. Abuses that affect larger absolute numbers of persons receive more weight.

  8. Finally, coding for the SVS is a difficult job, to say the least. Coders should just use their best judgment when in doubt and take heart from the collaborative nature of this project, where every reports is reviewed many times by many coders working together.