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COIRS Self-Study Training Guide for Online Investigative Research - Printable Ver.4.0 English

COIRS - Certified Online Investigative Research Certification
While CIRS® certification provides the most comprehensive training program for Internet research, the  COIRS® program adds “Investigative Research” techniques and methods to the mix. The Training Manual has Six (6) New Modules and extracts borrowed from CIRS® Module 2. The Training Guide ...Read more
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While CIRS® certification provides the most comprehensive training program for Internet research, the  COIRS® program adds...

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While CIRS® certification provides the most comprehensive training program for Internet research, the  COIRS® program adds “Investigative Research” techniques and methods to the mix. The Training Manual has Six (6) New Modules and extracts borrowed from CIRS® Module 2. The Training Guide teaches methods and tools used in investigating people, businesses; verifications of news, social media claims; and authenticating videos and images found online. The use of mobile phones and social media brings new complexities that makes it difficult to plug everything private; thus compromising user’s safety, integrity and exposure of private data – The COIRS® Training Guide highlights ways to prevent inherent risks associated with information exposures that comes with others performing online research and investigation on you or your business.

Details of COIRS® Exam Syllabus



This module has two 2 units

Since social media is construed as a tool of collective wisdom, it is used by researchers, journalists, investigators, social scientists, advertisers and others for information collection. However, because of its growth, it has caused information overload creating massive data cloud. This growth has compounded the issues of filtering out information from the fakes, and useful chatter from the meaningless ones.

Social Media Information Source & Profile Verification – Unit 14

This unit discusses social media Information extraction (IE) from user generated contents on social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. An example of Facebook data extraction tools is introduced that provide data such as “Social Trends”, “Industry Data”, “Demographic Overviews” Etc.

Topics in Unit 14

  • Importance of Social Media as Informative Source
    • Social Media Data as a Predictive Tool for Real-world Outcomes
    • Social Media Information Benefits for Online Research
    • Social Media Trends (Data Capture Qualitative & Quantitative Data Analysis)
  • Social Media Data Collection Methods with “Social Data Search” Tools
  • Social Network Data Collection Sources
  • Detecting Fake Accounts in Social Platforms such as in “Facebook”
  • How are Fake Facebook Accounts Created & Identified?
Social Media Information Verification Tools – Unit 15


This module has two 2 units

This module will teach Email Tracking & Verification Methods and Tools. In the social media, it’s extremely easy to assume a false identity by signing up for a service, making up a name and uploading a photo of a random person off the Web. Emails are also easily procurable for creating fake accounts in bulk use for spamming. A single user is able to create hundreds of free email accounts in a short span of time and use these to verify multiple accounts in the application. These hundreds of accounts can then be used for spam or fraud which will then create a very negative user experience.

These profile accounts are also instrumental in spreading false information, news, videos and photos that throw research or investigative work in the wrong direction. It is therefore important that the online researchers are aware of the methods and techniques that can detect and validate information source with emails authentication.

Email Technology & Reading Email Headers – Unit 16

Learn to track emailers origin and other information such as mailer server names DNS, sender locations with IP addresses.

Topics Covered

  • Email Technology – How Emails are Sent and Received?
  • Identification of various Email Messaging Components revealed inside “Email Header”.
  • Identifying Legit Email Messaging Servers.
Email Scams, Email Verification & Search Queries – Unit 17


This module has two units

In this module, you will learn about News Content Verification - Methods, Tools and Techniques. Often for research work, News or News Stories and online published News Articles are perceived to be of less information value compared to books or research papers and professional journals. Mainly because they are more reliable and considered peer-reviewed, vetted information source. Up to a certain degree, this is true; however, in comparison, the News has unique qualities that make them stand out. For instance, when we are to research events or incidents within a certain date the news and its archives can serve as a primary source of information about historical and current events. And, because newspapers also contain commentaries, opinions or retrospective articles about events, they can also serve as a secondary source of information.

News Information Source & News Bias Detection – Unit 18

The content researched from digital news and newspaper archives is being used by a large cross-section of researchers. These include academics, students, scholars, historians, journalists, content writers, professionals like lawyers, investigators, banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, actuaries, economists and analysts. It is important for the students to learn about various types of news reports and its source.

A biased news media effects the perception of truth. It sways public opinion that influences research results. Therefore, the outcome of a biased media is manipulation. It encourages ignorance and emotion over understanding and considered action. Because a biased media could be the factor that influences any number of outcomes it is important that a researcher understands types of bias, and learn to filter out biased news from a non-biased.

Topics Covered

  • Types of News Sources (News Reports, On-the-record, off-the-record, Attribution vs Non-Attribution, Anonymous Source, Expert Opinion, Leaks, Media Scandals Etc.)
  • Types of News Contents (Breaking News, Developing Story, News Stories, News Articles, News Videos etc.)
  • Types of Journalism behind News Stories (Freelance Journalism, Citizens Journalism, Online Journalism, Mainstream Journalism).
  • Type of News based on Reporting Characteristics (E.g. Soft News and Hard News)
  • News Dissipaters and News Aggregators (Broadcast Media, Social Media News, Search Engines, News Agencies and Syndicates).
  • Biased News Motivators (Govt Agencies, Politicians, Lobbyists and Activists)
  • Types of Bias in News Stories.
  • Identifying Researchers Bias in News Story.
Fake News Detection & News Verification Methods – Unit 19


Module 8 has two (2) Units

As digital trends evolve with the growth of the Internet and it's social media networks we see trends favoring online videos over textual content. Those researchers and online investigators that use video clips for information research or evidence source need its verification and authentication. They must apply authentication techniques, and follow guidelines provided by the legal system for evidence collection and preservation. Video authentication aims to ensure the trustworthiness of the video by verifying the integrity and source of video data. Especially, a series of videos manipulation software’s called “deep fakes,” have made use of technology that allows users to digitally superimpose a person’s face onto someone else’s body or imitate voice in unison with altered natural lip movements of the subject.

Online Videos Authentication & Evidence Management – Unit 20

Videos can serve as an important part of investigations, information collections and knowledge source. An online researcher can use videos for varied purposes, but most important utilization for research and investigation can be attributed to its type and source.

An online researcher (can be, investigator, journalist, attorney etc.) must understand that any video clips and images collected from the web as evidence must have some knowledge of “Digital Evidence Law” and understand “Authentication, Techniques and Procedures”.

In this unit, we will cover both the “Videos Authentication Techniques” and “Digital Evidence” collection requirements for Investigations and Investigative Journalism.

Topics Covered

  • Types of Online Videos Requiring Authentication for Research and Investigations – These include those mentioned below:
    • News Stories (Mainstream Media and Local/Global News Channels)
    • Social Media Contributed Video Clips from Freelance Journalists, Citizens, Propaganda Groups, Political Parties and Marketeers.
    • Videos Collected as Evidence to an Incident, Event and Crimes
  • Video and Photo Evidence – Legal Requirements and Digital Evidence Admissibility Criteria’s
  • Video Authentication – Approach and Methods
    • Forensic Vs Non-Forensic Techniques
    • Meta Data Extractions and Verification
  • Introduction to the Basics of Video Technology - How Videos are Made? And What are the Terminologies used in Identification of its Components for Authentication?
Identifying Video Edits, Tampering & Manipulations – Unit 21


Module 9 has two (2) Units

Fake websites have become increasingly pervasive, generating billions of dollars in fraudulent revenue at the expense of unsuspecting Internet users. The design and appearance of these websites make it difficult for users to manually identify them as fake. With the advent of sophisticated tools that manipulate images, videos and create fake news it has become increasingly difficult to sift through the website and social media to filter out the fakes from the real.

The process of websites verification is divided into three phases.

  1. Identifying Most Likely Fake Websites and Scams
  2. Verifying Website Attributes in Content Pages
  3. Authentication of Information, Offers, Products and Services on Website

The three (3) phase are covered within the two units.

Fake Websites & Website Content Verification – Unit 22

There are two types of fake websites, those that contain false information with an intent to defraud or mislead users to scam (also called Phishing or Spoofing Sites) and the other sites that showcase false information to sell products and services. However, there are some websites that are built on a temporary basis using hidden IP addresses and concealed domain ownership. In this unit, we will be discussing the topics shown below.

Topics in this Unit

In this unit, we have divided the process of websites verification into three phases. And each is explained in detail.

  • Identifying Most Likely Fake Websites and Scams Sites and How to Identify these Sites?
  • Verifying Fake or Unreliable Information on Website Content Pages, Website Layout or Design and Multimedia Files includes Images
  • Website Authentication of Claims, Offers, Products and Services
Identifying Fakes in Website Content Pages – Unit 23


Module 10 has two (2) Units

The Internet has become the primary tool for information gathering and all sorts of digital data is available in archives and specialized repositories.  Performing online search for data has become easier for investigative research and background checks of a business or individuals. However, over the past few years, the border between public information and private information has become blurred due to the Internet accessible public and private information vendors. Besides, the abundance of free and volunteered information uploads come in handy as well. Both the social media and the search engine vendors have become the main drivers of information collection. On the other hand, the traditional data miners for public data such as government institutions (federal, state and municipalities) continues to collect vital information of businesses and individuals. The Freedom of Information laws (FOI laws) allow access by the public to data held by their governments. As an online researcher it is a great opportunity to learn what data is available in the digital formats? where and how to get this data? and how to use it without legal constraints? – In these lessons that follow in Module 10, we will discuss and address these questions.

Private & Public Information, Source & Reports - Unit 24

One of the most challenging public policy issues of our time is the balancing act between access to public records and personal privacy - To obtain and use information within the restraints of the law, it is vital to understand what type of information is available legally for the public use? and which requires special permission (being private)? and conditions of its being used. We will answer these questions and provide several examples and a list of information types that fall in public and private domains. In this unit we have technically, divided Internet information sources in two (2) categories regarding information types:

  1. Public records and public information, and;
  2. Private information.

Topics Covered

  • What’s in Your Public Record?
  • Information Excluded from the Public Record
  • Public Information and Data for Restricted Use – In Specific Circumstances by Authorization
  • Certain Government Records Are Considered Confidential or Private
  • How to Obtain Certain Types of Restricted and Private Information or Data in Following Situations:
    • How to Obtain Criminal Investigation Records that are Not Public Records?
    • How to Obtain Government Records that are Considered Confidential or Private? E.g.:
      • Social welfare information, including Medicare records.
      • Social Security information.
      • ITIN Number
      • Tax information.
      • School records.
      • Medical Records and Health Records
      • Credit Bureau Reports
  • How to Obtain Protected Information Without Consent or Legal Purpose? E.g.: Bank Account Details, Financial Records, Phone Records Etc.
  • How and When to Obtain Protected Information Without Consent or Legal Purpose?
  • Types of Online Investigative Search - Background Check and Hidden Asset Search
  • Approach to Investigative Research Online
    • Facts Confirmation
    • Evidence Collection or E-Discovery
      • Methods and Techniques of Capture and Collecting Online Web Content for Evidence. (includes, multimedia embedded tags in videos, Images, voice)
      • Capturing Location Data from Mobile Devices
      • Collecting Online Data for Ongoing Investigations (Videos, CCTV, Location, Surveillance, Accomplices, Landmarks Etc.)
      • Legal Requirement of Digital Evidence Collection & Preservation
      • Social Media Data for Multifaceted Information for Evidences in Criminal and Civil Proceeding and Litigations.
  • Deriving Investigative Inferences
  • Methods of Recovering Social Media Account and Other Web Pages (or the information on pages) that were Online Previously but got Deleted or were Altered.
  • Investigative Research - “Red-Flag” Indicators when searching for a person or a business website on social media web pages – when investigating:
    • Finances and Financial Trails
    • Profession or Professional Concerns for Third Parties
    • Legal Issues Concerning Person or their Businesses
    • Criminal Involvement
  • Types of Online Search Reports – Includes Samples of Real Search Reports Available Online
    • Social Media Search Reports (Forensic Investigation in Social Media Evidence)
    • Personal Background Search
    • Bank Accounts Search Reports
    • Real Property Reports
    • Nationwide Bank & Brokerage Search Reports
    • Due Diligence Reports
    • Current Employment Search or Pre-Employment Search
    • Identify Employer Identification Number
    • Social Security No. Search
    • Skip-Trace Search
    • Bankruptcy Records, Liens and Judgements Search
    • Civil Court Records Search
    • Marriage and Family Court Records
    • Credit Bureau Reports (or Consumer Credit Reports)
    • The "Investigative Consumer Reports"
    • Specialized Consumer Reports from Bureaus
    • Reports on Trust-worthiness and Risk Management Data of Businesses
    • Other Specialized Reports
      • Employment Screening Reports
      • Tenant Screening Reports
      • Check and Bank Screening Reports
      • Personal Property Insurance Reports
      • Medical Information Reports
      • Low-income and subprime
      • Utilities Companies Data Exchange Reports
      • Retail Business “Merchandise Return Analytics & Fraud Prevention Reports”
      • Small Business Database and Reports
  • Online Database for Investigating Frauds, Scams and Other Crimes
  • Example: How to Check if an Educational Institutions is Legitimate? and Method of Examining Educational Credentials (Degrees, Certifications and Grade Sheets) for Fake Documents?
International Money Laundering Schemes & Foreign Assets Detection - Unit 25


This module has two 2 separate sections [includes seven (7) units]

1. Research Methods

The Research Methods includes fundamentals of conventional research. The approach explained in this section covers the industry’s research standards, conventions and methods applied by traditional research practitioners.

2. Internet Research

The Internet Research is considered a core section for the CIRS examination - This section of the course identifies the various challenges of digital information era and explains the techniques and approach to accessing information of the Internet. It provides insight of search engine behavior and responses upon sending search query to its indexed pages - it highlights the techniques and methods of how to formulate and structure search queries in your browser.

Research Methods – [ Section (1) Module 2]

Research Methods & Methodologies – Unit 3

Research work in the new digital information era has created an opportunity, as well as a responsibility for many of us: to explore and learn new research skills to access this information. While connecting people, information, and technology in effective and innovative ways is a learned skill for information users today - a basic knowledge of Standard Research Methods and Methodology is what makes the solid foundation for your research.

Topics Covered in this Unit

The research method is the procedure or technique applied by the researcher to undertake research. On the other hand, research methodology is a system of methods, used scientifically for solving the research problem. The scope of research methodology is wider than that of research method, as the latter is the part of the former. For understanding the research problem thoroughly, the researcher should know the research methodology the research methods.

  • Research Profession, Purpose and Research Market
  • Research Types, Methods, and Philosophies
  • Research Methodologies
Research Planning – Unit 4
Internet Research Challenges & Online Data Collection Methods – Unit 5

Internet Research – [ Section (2) Module 2]

Information of the Internet – Unit 6

Even though the Information can come from virtually anywhere and in any form — from media, blogs, personal experiences, books, journal and magazine articles, expert opinions, encyclopedias, and web pages. The type of information you need will change depending on the research question you are trying to answer or solve. Nearly two-thirds of users across our seven developed nations according to polls, said they use a search engine to look for news or search facts online at least once a day. However, not all Internet resources will necessarily deliver the most suitable or reliable information for many of us. Therefore, an online researcher must critically analyze and assess the usefulness and reliability of what is available on the web as content. In this unit, we will discuss how and where to find reliable information on the Internet.

Topics Covered in this Unit

  • Information Sourcing Concise Plan Outline
    • Information Gathering Approach
    • Information Sourcing Approach
  •  Information Types and Source Classification
  • Understanding Difference between Search Engines Database and Library System Database
  • Information of the Internet – Deep Web, Dark Web and the Visible Web or Surface Web
  • Source of Free Information on the Internet – Explains Types of Free Information of the Web
  • Free Information and the Copyrights Issues of the Internet Content
  • Evaluation of Internet’s Free Information – Methods and Approach
  • Specialized Search Engines – Classification, Types and Advantages
  • Categorized Information Resources of the Internet.
    • Statistics and Opinions Websites
    • Market Research Agencies
    • Online Automated Data Collectors (Automated Bots Crawler Software)
    • Information and Data from Public Records and Archives
      Online Information Archives and Online Database (Paid Subscriptions)
    • Specialized Websites. Portals and Forums (E.g. Public Reviews, Consumer Reports, Social Media, Personal Blogs, News Articles, Freelance Writers and Citizen Journalism Etc.).
  • Types of Restricted Online Information not available for General Public
Reading Search Engine Result Pages [SERP]– Unit 7
Advance Internet Search Methods & Techniques – Unit 8
Browser Adjustments & Personalization – Unit 9

Note: The hard copies of the Self-Study Guide are available for purchase by students in the Americas, Western Europe, Australia, and Oceania only. International students who order the electronic version of the course will receive the electronic (non-printable) online version of the Self-Study Guide and Workbook.

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