And you, how do you speak humanitarian?

Thank you for having borne with us on this evidence journey (16 posts) that we presented during the Humanitarian Evidence Week 2017. We hope that the Humanitarian Encyclopedia has fed and stimulated your reflection on the diversity of the humanitarian language. For this very last post of the HEW 2017, let us turn to our preliminary corpus.

The graph below is a co-occurrence matrix, showing the relation between the most used terms in the corpus. It is based on a preliminary coding of the documents which we presented and used in our previous posts. Co-occurrence matrixes – as network diagrams – can represent diverse types of relations between terms.


Here, we chose to show the community of different terms using a specific measure called modularity. Modularity measures the strength of division of a network of communities. This means that terms in the same color in the graph below have dense connections with each other but sparse connections with communities in other colors.

In the graph below, communities can refer to

  • Communities of senses, when terms share a same thematic focus
  • Communities of uses, when terms have similar patterns of appearance in texts
  • Communities of practices, when terms refer to specific areas of activities

Communities can be very large – including a diverse range of terms, sometimes contradictory or in tension (as the community in blue on top of the graph) or limited to some central terms – as in the case of the community linked to faith-based humanitarian action (pink terms) or humanitarian principles (in purple).

And you, how do you read this graph?

Is your practice reflected or do you feel it is part of another type of community? Please, tell us by using the comment form below.

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia aims to give humanitarian practitioners a leading role in deciding what the Humanitarian Encyclopedia will look like. Humanitarian practitioners will hence benefit from easy-to-use evidence-based analyses on how central terms to their practice are divergently or commonly understood, used and operationalized across the humanitarian field. Analyses coming from high level scholars will be freely available through an on-line platform.

Starting December 2017, we will start gathering the views and opinions of a large community of practitioners through an inclusive consultative process.

Did the presentation of these first evidences make you feel part of this collective adventure? Do you want to check if your organization is included in our database? Would you like to write a piece on a specific term?

To receive research results first hand and get our appeals for contributions, please fill in the form in the sidebar on the right.

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia team would like to thank the CERAH team and the organising team of the HEW 2017 for having made this event a success.