Why is it so hard to find policy reports? (And does climate change make you sneeze?)

Thousands of reports are released every week by NGOs, IGOs, think tanks and research centers. Why is it so hard to find them?
Why is it so hard to find policy reports? (And does climate change make you sneeze?)

Thousands of IGOs, NGOs and think tanks release policy reports every day. A few, especially from well-known organizations like the OECD, hit the headlines and get their '15 minutes of fame' on social media. Most don't.

Missing out on "Does Climate Change Make You Sneeze", released last week by Yale's Program on Climate Change Communication, might not be that important, but if you're involved in mitigating the impact of climate change on poor and vulnerable households, you'd probably want to know about The World Bank's Climate and Equity: a framework to guide policy action, or ICIMOD's new outlook that charts climate's impact on glaciers and snow and what it means for the peoples and nature in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region - both released earlier this month. But I'm not a climate specialist: so how come I know about these reports?

When I worked at the OECD, I kept hearing one thing from researchers and policymakers: why is it so hard to find reports from IGOs, NGOs, think tanks and research centers? The reason is straightforward: IGOs, NGOs and think tanks post reports on their websites - but there are thousands of them and who has the time to scan hundreds of websites on the off-chance a new report has been posted? (You might think that Google could do the job - but it's tuned for consumers, not policy professionals). What was needed was a 'Google' for policy professionals.

So, in 2019, when I left the OECD, I decided to build it. My goal was to build a 'scanning machine' that would automatically let you know when a new report had been released. You'd be in control, of course, you'd be able to fine-tune the scanning to match your areas of interest, confident that we'd be scanning all the organizations that matter to you.

We named this 'scanning machine' Policy Commons and it does more than bring the latest policy research to you. It's also a powerful search engine that can help you find what you're looking for. Plus, it's a dissemination platform where you can post your organisation's latest reports (or you can let me know and we'll do it for you).

We scan the websites of over 10,000 IGOs, NGOs and think tanks from around the world together with the websites of more than 1500 major cities (and do let me know about those we've missed). When new reports are found, they are indexed, ready to be discovered by our full-text search engine. To receive alerts, simply 'follow' favourite searches and you'll receive an email whenever something new is indexed. You can also 'follow' topics or any of the organisations in our directory. Later this month we'll index our 4 millionth policy report.

Policy Commons covers all areas of policy, which goes some way to explaining why a public policy librarian at Georgetown University said earlier this year, "Policy Commons exceeds my expectations every time I use it." Register today (it's free!) and see if it exceeds your expectations as a 'Google' for policy professionals too.

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