About the directory
On Think Tanks set up the Open Think Tank Directory in 2016 to respond to the lack of publicly available information on think tanks and other policy research centres worldwide. Even when seemingly detailed information exists, it tends to be private and not available to the public. This makes it difficult for think tanks to find each other, for the public to know which centres exist and for funders to know which ones work on which topics.
The Open Think Tank directory aims to pull together key information about policy organisations into one place. Today, it features public information for more than 3,600 organisations worldwide. The directory supports sector transparency and information accessibility. That’s why it’s an open database — it’s available in its entirety to download and use for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons license. See our Terms and Conditions for more information.
It is important to note that the nature of the database and the information it holds make it a live tool. The directory does not claim to have a complete list of ALL think tanks worldwide. But it does feature a good sample, one which is continuously updated: with new think tanks coming in, defunct ones being taken out, and data being added. Hence, while the data is not perfect, its analysis offers an interesting overview of the trends and patterns in the sector.
The directory is a project under the On Think Tanks programme and is managed by Stephanie Nicolle, Research and Learning Officer. Many individuals have contributed to the development of the directory in different capacities. The project was first developed by Jeff Knezovich, who provided the data structure and was involved in the initial data scraping and management of the data collection. Enrique Mendizabal, Stephen Yeo and Goran Buldioski provided advice and support during the development of the project. Quaternary Consulting developed the first version of the website and Soapbox updated the website and integrated it into the On Think Tanks site.
The development and maintenance of the directory have been, and remain, possible thanks to many funders. The Open Society Foundations gave us the initial grant that made the directory possible in 2016; the Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change Latin America from Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V. funded a scoping of organisations in Latin America with a specific focus on environment and climate change in 2017; UNICEF funded a scoping of organisations working in their priority regions and issues in 2019–2020; Robert Bosch Stiftung funded a scoping of organisations worldwide focusing on topics related to migration, peace and security, inequality and environment in 2019–2020; USAID supported the scoping of data on think tanks in the USA and Panama in 2021; and most importantly, long-term funding from the Hewlett Foundation makes the management, improvement, update and analysis of the Open Think Tank Directory possible.
Many individuals have supported data collection for the directory: Abby Apollo, Abdelhamid Benhmade, Anara Alymkulova, Andrea Baertl, Andrea Ordoñez, Andrew Snell, Angela Pajuelo, Ani Mnatsakanyan, Anna Ludwig, Beka Kiria, Bermet Imanalieva, Brigid Laffan, Carolina Alvarez, Chen Ou Yang, Chndy Rogel, Claudia Peschiera, Cristina Pachon, Cristina Ramos, Daniele Milani, Deeksha Rao, Eilish Hart, Estefanía Charvet, Gail Wilson, Huang Lin Ting, Iliana Ninahualpa, Jee Suyo, Jeff Knezovich, Jessica Chu, Joel Moffat, Stephanie Nicolle, Josephine Tsui, Juan O’ Callaghan, Julio Lopez, Kim John-Williams, Luise Schurian, Lynn Tin Hwang, Mabel Andrade, Maria Jose Zamora, Miranda Bell, Pablo Garfias, Rebecca Clements, Sarah Wilson, Spandana Battula, Stephan Paulsen, Swastika Kasaju, Timothy Liptrot, Viktoriia Udaltsova and Wilson Sagástegui.