The original meaning of the term ‘commons’ comes from the way communities managed land that was held ‘in common’ in medieval Europe. Along with this shared land, a clear set of rules was developed by the community about how it was to be used. Over time, the term ‘commons’ has taken on several meanings. Most generally, it can be used to refer to a broad set of resources, natural and cultural, that are shared by many people.
Enter Policy Commons, based on the same principle of sharing – in this case sharing of information. Policy Commons is an online service providing fact-based objective research and information from the world’s leading policy experts, NGOs, IGOs and think tanks. With over 21 000 organisations contributing to Policy Commons, it is one of the largest repositories available, offering 3 400 topics from over 2,5 million publications.
Sabinet, a company focused on ensuring users can access the information they need, partnered with Coherent Digital to bring Policy Commons to Africa. This service is ideal for students, researchers, libraries, corporates, small and large businesses as well as government. It enables researchers to speed up their research, discover unique current content and find new sources in a much easier manner than before.
Explains Sanet Vos, Head of Product at Sabinet, “The volume of information available on search engines can be both overwhelming and inaccurate. Policy Commons guarantees authenticity of information based on policy and research reports. The format is user friendly with a search mechanism and alphabetical list of over 3 400 topics.
“For academic and corporate libraries it is a fantastic research platform for their users. We offer them the opportunity to book a free demo and trial. Generally, once they have experienced the content, they sign up. Registration is free with up to 25 free searches per month. There are different size membership options available, but the premium membership seems to suit most.”
With the institutional membership, members have access to a unique search and discovery index with over 500 000 pieces of premium, licensed content as well as over 100 000 preserved documents from just under 350 organisations which are no longer in existence. Members also have access to the Canadian Public Policy Document Collection which houses around 60 000 items dating back to 1953. There is also a directory with detailed entries for 21 100 think tanks, research institutes, NGOs and more.
With the option to select three policy organisations, institutional members can customise what content really matters to them. They can also subscribe to customisable alerts and stay up to date with content applicable to them, as new materials are added to the database.
Vos says Policy Commons allows users to upload their own content to reach a global audience of peers. “With the Community collection, users gain access to a growing collection of community uploads. Users can reach thousands of policy professionals and academics by uploading their own research. Links can be added to drive traffic back to their own website.”
With over 700 think tanks, over 160 organisations and more than 4 000 reports, Policy Commons has a sizeable and steadily growing content base of Africa-centric materials.