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Investigating people: A Qualitative Analysis of the Search Behaviours of Open-Source Intelligence Analysts

The Internet and the World Wide Web have become integral parts of the lives of many modern individuals, enabling almost instantaneous communication, sharing and broadcasting of thoughts, feelings and opinions. Much of this information is publicly facing, and as such, it can be utilised in a multitude of online investigations, ranging from employee vetting and credit checking to counter-terrorism and fraud prevention/detection.

However, the search needs and behaviours of these investigators are not well documented in the literature. In order to address this gap, an in-depth qualitative study was carried out in cooperation with a leading investigation company. The research contribution is an initial identification of Open-Source Intelligence investigator search behaviours, the procedures and practices that they undertake, along with an overview of the difficulties and challenges that they encounter as part of their domain. This lays the foundation for future research in to the varied domain of Open-Source Intelligence gathering.


  • 2014Full Paper
  • PublicationProceedings of IIiX 2014
  • Authors
    • Sean McKeown
    • David Maxwell
    • Leif Azzopardi
    • William Bradley Glisson
  • Publication Date August 25, 2014
  • DOI10.1145/2637002.2637023
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