A first step before setting out to map existing governance indicators in a country is to establish the parameters for the mapping. This requires answering several key questions, such as defining the scope of relevant governance indicators and deciding which sources of governance data will be included or excluded.
Where do you draw the line between indicators for governance and indicators for other areas?
The mapping will need to define for the purposes of the research, which indicators are "governance" indicators, and which indicators will be excluded by definition. The conceptual criteria for inclusion and exclusion often will also double as a framework for how the mapping is structured and presented.
A working concept of governance may be based on themes, attributes, broad policy areas, performance criteria or other organizing principles. For example, indicators that measure themes such as justice, parliament, civic engagement and so on might be included, whereas indicators that measure other themes might be excluded. Some researchers may decide to operationalize governance in terms of attributes such as transparency, accountability, inclusion and responsiveness, and to exclude indicators that measure other attributes. Yet other researchers may decide to operationalize governance in terms of broad policy areas, such as political, economic or administrative governance.
Where do you draw the line between "governance indicators" and "governance data"?
The line between what constitutes a governance indicator and what constitutes governance data is often fluid. An "indicator" provides descriptive or analytical information on conditions or trends. "Data" is a broader concept and also may include individual facts, narratives, statistics, visual or audio materials, or items of information that do not readily point to conditions or trends.
During the mapping one might come across administrative data, such as court case documentation, financial reporting or administrative management documentation, that do not lend themselves to easy interpretation of trends or conditions of justice, financial management or administrative management. On the other hand, such documentation and reporting may form very useful data sources for developing governance indicators. For example, by examining court case documentation over a specific period, you may be able to determine the number of defendants who have had access to legal representation, a useful indicator for access to justice.
Where do you draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate producers of governance indicators?
A key inclusion criterion might be that data sources should be politically acceptable to all key stakeholders. This criterion is often conducive to develop consensus, legitimacy and broad-based national ownership. Typical governance indicator producers include:
Government ministries and departments
Non-government organisations (NGOs)
Academia (universities, think tanks, etc.)
Interest groups or issue-specific groups likewise may produce data or conduct surveys, purportedly to gather and influence governance practices but mainly to strengthen and support specific causes and advocacies. For example, initiatives of pressure or lobby groups established for the purpose of political, economic, social or other vested interests may be illegitimate in some people's eyes.
Similarly, elite capture of state institutions and research institutes may be other sources of illegitimacy that might disqualify the data producer from the mapping.
Additional mapping criteria:
Several additional criteria of inclusion or exclusion of governance indicators in the mapping exercise include:
Quantitative/qualitative data: The mapping might only include indicators that are based on numeric data, or it might also include indicators that are not numeric in nature.
Regular production of indicators: The mapping might only include governance indicators in which data are collected regularly and systematically, quarterly, annually or biennially, or it might also include indicators in which data are collected as a "one-off" event. Knowledge of "one-off" studies may be useful for planning future mappings.
National-level indicators: The mapping might only include national-level governance indicators, or it might also include indicators that only are available in some regions or districts.
Availability: The mapping might only include indicators that are in the public domain and free of charge.
Transparency: The mapping might only include indicators that provide information on methodology.
Methodological robustness: The mapping might only include indicators that are methodologically reliable and valid.