ACLED is directed by Prof. Clionadh Raleigh and operated by senior research manager Caitriona Dowd, both affiliated with the University of Sussex, while data collection involves several researchers. The dataset was introduced by Raleigh and co-authors in a 2010 paper in the Journal of Peace Research. ACLED was originally hosted by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (but was, even at the time, distinct from the UCDP/PRIO Armed Conflict dataset) but later moved to an independent home. ACLED is now registered as an independent, non-governmental organization in the United States.
ACLED data contain information on the specific dates and locations of conflict events, the types of events, the groups involved, reported fatalities and changes in territorial control. ACLED covers political violence in all African countries starting from 1997 to the present, and South and South-East Asia in real-time. Data for non-African states are also available for the period 1997-2010, with the exception of Pakistan and Afghanistan, for which "beta" data collections are available for 2006-2009. Data collection involves a variety of sources including reports from developing countries and local media, humanitarian agencies, and research publications. A full account of definitions, practices, source materials and coding procedures are available in the Methodology section on ACLED website.
Data are updated in real-time and can be downloaded from the website. ACLED provides a codebook intended for users of the dataset and additional maps, trend charts and infographics that can be consulted in the Visuals section of the website. Real-time analysis of political violence can be also found on ACLED Crisis Blog. ACLED data are also available under the "Climate Change and African Political Stability" section of the website of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin.
Over the past few years, several scholars have cited ACLED in their research on civil wars and political violence. ACLED has also been referenced in a number of reports published by development practitioners and humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations country offices, the United States State Department and the United States military.
Political scientist, data analyst, and forecaster Jay Ulfelder blogged about his experience trying to use the ACLED to see if it added predictive power in estimating the probability of coups, and explained both how he approached the problem and why he eventually concluded that the ACLED data did not add predictive power for coup forecasting. However, 23 successful and unsuccessful changes in power through coups have occurred across Africa since 1997. Recent research suggests that coup risk is related to the size and stability of a leader's cabinet, and not episodes of political violence preceding coups. A post by Thomas Zeitzoff at the Political Violence at a Glance blog listed the ACLED as one of several "high-profile datasets." Patrick Meier blogged about it at irevolution.net