The term documentation can have different meanings, depending on the geographical context or the field in which it is employed. It is important to stress that documenting is a process that includes different steps, which can vary depending on the goal of the documentation. But generally, documentation consists of:
- Data collection: determining what information is needed and establishing means for acquiring it. Monitoring is a key means of collecting data and information in the case of incidents that occur at specific events (such as LGBT pride marches; particular religious holidays). Other methods (interviews, questionnaires, etc.) may be more appropriate to collect data about an individual incident, such as an attack on the street or a bullying incident at school. Where and when possible, it is a good idea to collect information through both monitoring and fact- finding activities. This allows for a more complete picture to be drawn and to cross-check the information.
- Organising and analysing the data to make them more accessible. This step could mean elaborating statistics, charts and graphs to make findings more visible.
- Reporting: disseminating the information to actors (government authorities, European/ international institutions, human rights institutions, etc.) who can take action. In order to be effective and successful, it helps to have a dissemination strategy, i.e. to think about who we want to send the information to at an early stage.