Policy Commons by Sabinet

Grey literature is the unpublished, non-commercial, hard-to-find information that organisations such as think tanks, professional associations, research institutes and government departments produce. This valuable yet often overlooked asset is growing in volume and significance and yet it remains elusive. 

While digital technologies have radically increased our capacity to produce and disseminate knowledge and information, many of the social and economic benefits are being lost as researchers and policy makers struggle to find relevant material, filter search results and evaluate the huge variety of resources being published online. 

Enter Policy Commons Global Think Tanks, making visible that which was previously buried in the expanse of the digital age. This groundbreaking service, available through Sabinet, is revolutionising the way policy researchers discover and access grey literature. 

The grey literature conundrum 

Characterised by its unpublished, non-commercial nature, grey literature embodies a wealth of valuable information. Contrary to popular belief, it is often subjected to peer review, with over 60% of such materials undergoing expert evaluation before publication (1). However, it frequently remains obscured within the depths of the evolving scholarly record. The absence of formal publishing channels and standardised metadata poses challenges, making grey literature difficult to integrate into conventional databases and library catalogues. 

Finding relevant, credible, and impactful research materials outside of the formal scholarly record can often feel like a daunting quest. This challenge is particularly pronounced in policy research, where the nuances of decision-making hinge on access to diverse perspectives and data.  

With a repository boasting some 5 million pages of grey literature crucial to policy research, Policy Commons serves as a one-stop online discovery service, bridging the gap between researchers and invaluable resources. Powered by partnerships with leading think tanks, policy experts, NGOs, and more, Policy Commons emerges as a central hub for objective, quality, and current research publications. 

Grey literature has a real-world impact on policy direction and enablement, previously difficult to measure. The Policy Commons full-text search engine has been enhanced with impact factors to discover where your content and organisation are mentioned in grey literature.  

Empowering researchers with advanced tools 

Policy Commons not only aggregates a vast array of grey literature but also offers specialised coverage tailored to various regions and sectors. For instance, its focus on Africa encompasses over 911 organisations, over 27 think tanks, and nearly 78,000 reports, underscoring its commitment to inclusivity and global relevance. Mentions of your content and organisation boost your impact reports with grey literature case studies.   

“Sabinet is the African distributor of Policy Commons, and we are proud to be associated with this excellent service,” says Sabinet Head of Product Sanet Vos. “With over 25,000 organisations contributing to Policy Commons, in partnership with Coherent Digital, it is one of the largest grey literature repositories around. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, platforms like Policy Commons illuminate pathways to informed decision-making, driving positive change on local, regional, and global scales.” 

In essence, Policy Commons’ preservation efforts ensure the longevity and accessibility of materials, with every record equipped with a persistent identifier for confident citation. With the rescue and recovery of nearly 900,000 pages of publications from organisations that were important, influential, and cited before they disappeared, researchers can even uncover “lost” content. Rescued content grows annually and all publication links are intentionally checked to ensure active links are clickable on the platform.  

Policy Commons is a paradigm shift in policy research, where elusive grey literature transforms into a tangible asset. By harnessing digital technologies and fostering collaborative networks, the service empowers researchers to navigate the complex terrain of policy analysis with confidence and clarity. 

Embark on a journey of discovery with Policy Commons and Sabinet. Gain access to a growing collection of community uploads enriched with metadata. 

Contact us for more information: +27 12 643 9500, info@sabinet.co.za or visit: sabinet.co.za


(1) https://content.iospress.com/articles/information-services-and-use/isu857


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