Scores are obtained via a process involving content analysis, quantitative data, and qualitative review. In the content analysis phase, millions of documents from over 100,000 English-language or translated sources (social media are excluded) are scanned and filtered through the Fund for Peace's Conflict Assessment Systems Tool (CAST), which utilizes specific filters and search parameters to sort data based on boolean phrases linked to indicators, and assigns scores based on algorithms. Following CAST analysis, quantitative data from sources such as the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO), World Factbook, Transparency International, World Bank, and Freedom House are incorporated, which then leads to the final phase of qualitative reviews of each indicator for each country.
Considered together in the index, the indicators are a way of assessing a state's vulnerability to collapse or conflict, ranking states on a spectrum of categories labeled sustainable, stable, warning, and alert. Within each bracket, scores are also subdivided by severity. The score breakdown is as follows: