A Siberian reality check on open source information

Athol Yates, Nicholas Zvegintzov

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    Open Source Information (OSI) and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) are attracting enormous interest from the business, military and political intelligence communities. OSI and OSINT offer the prospect of delivering valuable intelligence, from so called open sources such as newspapers, experts, and online databases. While OSI and OSINT may offer considerable potential when employed to produce information on foreign countries, they are totally dependent on the researchers' and analysts' understanding of the target country's history, politics and society. A research project on the BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) Railway in eastern Siberia provides a practical example of OSI. The project involved researching a book on the BAM (Baikal Amur Mainline) Railway in eastern Siberia using OSI alone as it was impossible to visit the region. The 3,084km BAM traverses an almost unpopulated region which had been virtually closed to Westerners since it became a major gulag zone in the 1930s. Once the book's research was underway, it became clear that much of the English language published material was ill informed and contradictory. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the relaxation of travel restrictions, it was possible to validate the information gathered. This led to a number of surprising findings about the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the material collected outside Russia.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)175-186
    Number of pages12
    JournalAslib Proceedings
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - 1999


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