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Monday, 30th June 2008

Resource of the Week: PolicyArchive

Resource of the Week: PolicyArchive
By Shirl Kennedy, Senior Editor

On DocuTicker, our sister site, you will find a neverending stream of reports from government agencies, ngos, think tanks, and other groups. It is an impossible task to keep up with the sheer volume of this material; we do the best we can to offer a representative sampling of...What's Out There. By and large, this is high quality research material -- but if you are unaware of it, it might as well not exist.

We're not the only ones who recognize this problem. Say hello to PolicyArchive, a joint project of the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), a nonprofit organization in California, the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis Library and Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC.

Problem: American philanthropic foundations spend over $1.5 billion a year on research. Spread out across the nation among diverse libraries, institutions, databases, and websites, this valuable research can be difficult or impossible to identify and obtain once it has been published. Research organizations have no central place to distribute or archive their content, and search engines cannot easily locate much policy research. Research is not optimized to appear at the top of search engine results. Existing policy websites are focused on single issues or available only upon payment of substantial fees.

Solution: PolicyArchive simplifies this complex research landscape by providing a universal, easy-to-use, free, and open digital archive of foundation-funded and other public policy research. The PolicyArchive solution provides public interest organizations a low-cost electronic system for distributing, publicizing, and archiving their research. It allows research users, policy makers, the media, and the public to quickly access the depth and breadth of research in various subject matters. It also provides a direct line of communication between research providers and end-users, thus increasing public awareness of an organization's work and adding significant value to their research investment. Ultimately, PolicyArchive will indefinitely preserve the life of public policy research, substantially increase its impact, and provide society at large with long-term access to the benefits of that important research.

The archive is ridiculously easy to use. A dropdown menu allows you to browse by topic, author, funder, or publisher. Or hunt for something specific, via the keyword search box next to the dropdown menu. An advanced search form offers menu-driven field searching, Boolean options, and the ability to limit your search to a particular topic or type of publication.

Topic "quick links" are available at the bottom of the home page:

The archive currently contains more than 12,000 documents; organizations are encouraged to register and upload their research to the site. More than 250 diverse institutions (PDF; 14 KB) are already doing so, from Action for Children to Women's Voices for the Earth. The entire political spectrum is represented as well -- from the liberal Center for American Progress, to the libertarian Cato Institute, to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

About halfway down the home page, on the righthand side, you can see the latest additions to the archive. You can subscribe to an e-mail newsletter if you're interested in keeping up with what's new.

What's sorely missing here? RSS feeds. We'd love to see individual feeds available for each topic. Which would turn this wonderful archive into a top-notch current awareness service.


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