Global Think Tanks (formerly Policy Commons)

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    Global Think Tanks indexes and links to more than 3.4 million reports, working papers, policy briefs, data sources, and media drawn from a curated directory of more than
    24,000 think tanks, including IGOs, NGOs, and research centers across the globe.  Delivered on the Policy Commons Platform, Global Think Tanks currently provides full text coverage of more than 8,500 organizations and includes more than 55,000 rescued reports from over 500 inactive organizations.

    May 31, 2024 4:27pm
    Collection Content

    Global Think Tanks (formerly Policy Commons), a product from Coherent Digital, offers access to a wide array of policy documents from leading policy experts including NGOs, IGOs, think tanks, government agencies, and educational institutions. Global Think Tanks reports that greater than 95% of their content is available via open access, with over 20 million pages available for free in the public domain. While that content remains available to all through Policy Common’s “freemium” model, subscribing users gain unlimited access to Policy Common’s directory, 500,000 pages of premium licensed material, and 725,000 pages of rescued content from inactive organizations.  

    According to its website, Global Think Tanks focuses on retrieving “orphan content” from old web pages and media to collect and preserve this information that otherwise might be lost. Also, through editorial curation of its organization directory, the site excludes sources that are low quality or purveyors of “fake news” items. This collection will likely appeal to policy researchers, instructors, and college students looking for content that may be difficult to access otherwise (Beach 2021).  

    With over 2 million titles from 10K+ organizations, Global Think Tanks’ documents range over 3,400 indexed topics, including many timely and relevant topics such as Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, climate change, Brexit, and gender equality, to name a few. The collection contains various document types. Among the most common are reports, articles, and books; however, maps, brochures, data sets, and other publication types appear in the collection as well. 

    According to Coherent Digital, the bulk of the collection is from 1947 to the present, with most material (835K+ publications) between 2016 and 2021. The collection is international, containing content from 150 countries. While the collection’s primary language is English, followed by Spanish and French, its documents include109 languages. That number is expected to increase as the collection grows.  

    Global Think Tanks regularly searches institutions’ websites for new content and makes daily updates to the collection. Also, Global Think Tanks allows users to interact with and help develop the collection by uploading content to its site. In addition, Global Think Tanks reports that members can work with its editors to direct the harvester to retrieve content from specific target organizations or sources. At this point, the collection is ongoing and there is no end date for acquiring new content. 

    Click here, to review the Premium Content Bibliography.


    Global Think Tanks offers an easy-to-navigate website. It allows searching by organization type, publication type, topics, and tables. Selecting one of those four options allows users to access the full index or continue to refine searches by applying limiters. Its advanced search function employs Boolean operators as well as recently added proximity searching. According to the publisher, “End users can specify that they would like to retrieve publications with words separated by a reasonable distance in the text.  By default, the Global Think Tanks NEAR operator will consider 15 as the number of words separating the two terms in the query.  However, end users can also set a specific maximum distance, using the operator of NEAR/ (i.e. NEAR/5).” Users can also choose to search via full-text or by the fields of Title and Summary. Searches can be further limited by publication date, publication type, organization, language, and country. While relevance sorting is the default mode, search results can also be sorted by earliest to latest date or vice versa. Subscribing members can also select searches to follow, and they will receive updates when new content matching those searches is posted. An institutional subscription also allows for unlimited searches while individual users are allowed 25 free searches a month. 

    By selecting texts from search results, users are directed to a page that provides a summary of the item and a “View” button that links to full-text documents. As Beach notes in her review of the site, freely available content is retrieved from the website of the publication while premium content is available on the Global Think Tanks site. According to the publisher, while much of its content is accessible through individual institutions’ websites, for unstable or hard-to-find material (“grey literature”), Global Think Tanks retains copies (with permissions) to ensure access for members in case the original URL no longer works. Besides the “View” button, there are buttons for easily sharing content via email and social media. The site adds a persistent identifier to make content more discoverable. It displays MLA citations that can be copied and pasted with plans to offer citation exportation soon. 

    One of the newest features of the site is table discovery. Users can now access Global Think Tanks' 350,000 indexed tables without having to search through reports that include tables. Tables can be downloaded as.csv files, allowing researchers to better study and interact with the data.  


    While 95% of the content in the collection can be accessed for free, premium content containing 725,000 pages of orphan content and 500,000 pages of the licensed material is available only to subscribing members. The subscription options include a standard annual membership (12 months) or a Founding Membership, which offers a 60-month term for the price of a 36-month membership. Currently, there is an option to purchase tied in with the Founding Membership, or a Founding Membership OTP (one-time purchase option) that provides perpetual access with premium content. More information about the various membership options can be found here: Founding Member Purchaser FAQ


    Center for Research Libraries

    • Erin Haddad-Null, Collections & Partnerships Administrative Assistant
    Additional Reviews in Other Sources

    Beach, Jennifer S. “Policy Commons.” Review of Policy Commons in Advisor Reviews— Standard Review. The Charleston Advisor, April 2021, pp. 56-60. Accessed August 18, 2021. doi:10.5260/chara.22.4.56. 

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