Through innovative methods using big data, including analyses of web traffic and onomastic of public databases, IOM and its partners have been able to better map concentrations of the Armenian diaspora worldwide, and understand the professional networks of the diaspora. Onomastics is defined as a “branch of sociolinguistics examining the morphology of names”. It can be used to analyse datasets in order to classify individuals based on their first and last names in addition to other identifiers such as gender, origin or culture. In the context of diaspora mapping, the main importance of using onomastics lies in the possibility of locating individuals whose names belong to a certain country or culture.
Through analysis of the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) database of researchers, for example, the project has identified 26,945 scientists and researchers of Armenian origin living outside of Armenia, with many engaged in fields of importance to Armenia’s development, such as health, the social sciences and natural sciences.
The tangible benefits of this research can already be seen, as based on mapping results IOM was able to identify relevant diaspora professionals and coordinate videoconferences between officials within the Ministry of Health and Armenian diaspora medical professionals in New York and Paris who had been treating cases of COVID-19. Through the video conferences, these medical professionals were able to provide Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia with key insights and information to support Armenia’s own response to the pandemic and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Diversity and dissemination of the Armenian diaspora was one of the challenges, making impossible to include all major diaspora communities. As measure to overcome this challenge the focus was concentrated into two main Armenian diaspora communities (Armenian diaspora communities in the United States and France).
Though the onomastic research has given tangible results, it was conducted based on 2 major databases – ORCID and ZoomInfo, meanwhile as a lessons learned for the next time, more databases should be considered for onomastic research and for overall diaspora mapping, letting have more data and more clear vision on professional diasporas skills, knowledge and opportunities.