Building a Relational Database – The BIG Dyads Database


The BiG Dyads Database is a relational database that brings the Borders in Globalization themes together and allows our researchers to not only structure and exploit the current data that we have collected, but also further their research and, in turn, help grow the database itself. Following the criteria set by database specialists, our leads and their research assistants are responsible for formulating the indicators that fall under their respective themes. Once the indicators are finalised, the data is collected, normalised in accordance with database standards, and recorded.

Through BiG Dyads we aim to:

  • make our research available to fellow researchers and, after an inaugural stage, to the public
  • help store data already gathered and, where possible, quantify qualitative data
  • exploit data to shed light on trends and insights hitherto hidden from observation
  • formulate new research questions on the basis of current and prospective indicators
  • publish findings which have been made possible through the database

BIG Dyads –


Download the latest BIG Dyads Codebook (January 2022). This is a living document and will be updated on a semi-annual basis.


BiG Dyads takes more than 800 land and maritime dyads worldwide as the organising principle of its relational framework. These dyads are the rows (or records) for which each column (or indicator) records an occurrence. This relational database gives the researcher the power to query data points, compare them, and arrive at useful information. Integrating such data points and information can often lead to insights otherwise hard, if not impossible, to obtain.

With co-funding from the Jean Monnet Network, we are proceeding with the development of a database of border data for Borders in Globalization. We expect this database to be a major contribution to border scholarship, and to bolster and facilitate further research in the various fields of comparative border studies.  In order to begin gathering information for the database, we are working towards developing up to 50 indicators/data points per specific area of knowledge in border studies: (1) border culture, (2) sustainability across borderlands, (3) border security, (4) border history, (5) governance of borders, and (6) border flows/mobility.

Our primary unit for the collection of each indicator is the dyad – the boundary-line between two current nation-states. We have started with all nation members of the United Nations and are expanding to include dyads that are recognized by at least one other nation-state. Thus, our database has over 800 territorial and maritime dyads (and more if we add spatial dyads) and will have 300 indicators/data points (50 indicators/data points x 6 thematic research areas).

In 2018 we started with a fairly small number of indicators and dyads to find information available for at least four or five of the regions we have studied: Canada, the United States, Japan, and EU external borders (e.g. Turkey and Iraq, Spain and Morocco). By mid 2019, we hope to have compiled information on about 10 indicators per disciplinary area of research (60 indicators in all) across 50 dyads. Ultimately though, we will be collecting data from all over the world.

Additional Resources

Building a Database Series

Introduction 1

This video provides a general overview of the network including an introduction to our goals, fundamental assumptions, hypothesis, and projects outcomes and impact.

Building a Database Series

Introduction 2

This video provides a deeper dive into our methodology and database, as well as a discussion about dyadic research more generally.

Building a Database Series

Introduction 3

This video includes a presentation on the MySQL database format and background on our database consecution.

Building a Database Series

Preparing Datasets

This video discusses how to find, source, organize, and prepare data for the database.

Building a Database Series

Relational Databases

This video explains what a relational database is and defines terms such as variable, indicator, and database.

Building a Database Series

Inputting Data

This video outlines our standards for data and goes over the dos and don’ts of inputting data.

Project Funders