Data collection

Parliaments are always the IPU’s first port of call for Parline data. Over the years, the IPU has established systems with parliaments to collect and verify data. A network of Parline Correspondents was initiated in April 2019 whereby each parliament or chamber designates a correspondent(s) to proactively inform the IPU of any changes relevant to their Parline data.

Around half of the 600 data fields are collected through a series of questionnaires completed and submitted by Parline Correspondents and other focal points in parliaments. Data for annually updated fields are collected via the annual activities questionnaire, while data for fields updated after every election/renewal are collected in the post-election questionnaire.

Around 20% of data fields are actively monitored and updated every time there is a change – for instance — the sex, age and appointment/election of Speakers and Secretaries General, and the number of women in parliament. All other fields are reviewed at periodic intervals and updated on a rolling basis.

IPU also collects data from from other credible sources (e.g. constitutional or legal references, parliamentary websites). A limited number of data fields are populated with information derived from the World Bank (e.g. PPP conversion factor) and the United Nations (e.g. population data).

Data coverage and quality assurance

Data coverage is contingent upon information supplied by parliaments. Some parliaments have robust in-house library and research services, and others operate with very small Secretariats that may not regularly collect and monitor the data requested for Parline.

The IPU attempts to present data that is consistent in definition, timing and methods. However, differences in timing and reporting practices of parliaments can sometimes lead to inconsistencies among data. Also, it is difficult to apply a universal definition to certain concepts as working methods and terminology employed by parliaments vary (e.g. “emergency legislation” or “parliamentary inquiries”). In so far as possible, explanatory notes accompany the data where needed.

Before data is published, quality controls are carried out by the IPU including by comparing new data with historical records for a given country and among countries and with publicly available information. In the case of any inconsistencies, a dialogue is opened with the parliament to clarify and, where necessary, correct the data. In addition, parliaments are invited to review all of their data on Parline at regular intervals – at least annually and following elections.