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On Think Tanks was founded in mid 2010. It has evolved from a blog into a global platform dedicated to study and support policy research and policy research centres, or think tanks. The members of the On Think Tanks Team and its Advisory Board are spread out across 6 continents!

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Information on the directory data and use.

Frequently asked questions

Why does this directory exist?

There is no shortage of information about think tanks on the web, but it is scattered across different sites with different focus areas and is seldom kept up to date. And information that is up to date tends to be proprietary. So, questions like the following are almost impossible to answer:

  • Are there more think tanks in Lima, Peru, or Lahore, Pakistan?
  • What is the oldest think tank in the world?
  • Which countries have the most politically independent think tanks?
  • Are there more think tanks focusing on climate change or on education?

This directory aims to pull together everything into one place. We want to make sure it’s as accessible as possible. That’s why it’s an open database — it’s available in its entirety to download and use for non-commercial purposes.

How reliable is the data in this directory?

The information in this directory is of different levels of reliability. We aim to be transparent in this by labelling the level or processing the data we present has had. There are four levels of reliability, described below:

  • Imported: This information is the most basic level. We have compiled information from different credible sources. However, this data has not been reviewed at all by On Think Tanks and may not be up to date
  • Authenticated: Data collectors from around the globe sourced the information by validating information available on the Internet, which may be of variable quality (On Think Tanks has not reviewed the accuracy of this data).
  • OTT reviewed: Members of On Think Tanks have looked at the information and are satisfied that it is in the correct format and accurate. They have also made decisions about whether it should be included in the directory.

Who is On Think Tanks?

On Think Tanks focuses on a range of issues of relevance and interest to think tanks as well as their staff and supporters.We hope that our initiatives and the articles and the resources published here will support think tanks to be more strategic in the ways they make short and long-term decisions; and that this will result in better policy advice and policy outcomes for all.

Why do I have to register in order to download the database?

This is an open database – that means that it costs nothing and you are free to use it for any purposes. We ask you to register in order to download the full directory so that we can contact you in case of updates to the information contained in the database. We may also send important announcements about the data, or ask for case studies about how the information in the directory is being used. You can unsubscribe from our messages at any time, and you are not required to inform us about how you use the database.

How have we defined which organisation´s to include?

The inclusion criteria were:

  • The organisation had to carry out some form of research with the aims of informing public policies – those doing research without a public policy angle were not considered, neither were organisations mainly focusing on advocacy and not carrying out research.
  • The organisation had to have an independent identity (particularly in the case of university affiliated centres).

What is a boundary organisation?

During the process, we realised that some organisations somewhat met the criteria but were not think tanks in the classical definition, their characteristics were different. We decided to include them in the database but mark them as boundary organisations. A centre was deemed a boundary organisation if it carried out some form of research to inform public policy, but it´s main activities were others (pure research, advocacy, programme implementation, etc.). We have kept them in the directory but they are excluded from country and general averages of data.

Which variables does the directory track?

Variable Description Example
Think tank name (original) Name of the think tank in its original language and characters. El Think Tánk ; 싱크 탱크
Think tank name (English) Name of the think tank in English Think Tank
Initials Initials of think tank, where applicable. Initials are the acronym the think tank is most commonly known by, either in its own language or in English. TT
Website address URL of the main website of the think tank
Think tank strapline The strapline, or slogan, of the think tank, if applicable Researching policy
Think tank logo URL URL to a version of the think tank’s current logo
Think tank description A short (no more than three-sentence) description of the think tank. Ideally the description should include what the TT is, its aims/mission/objectives and main activities. Think Tank works to ensure the best outcomes for our priority topics through independent, rigorous and policy-relevant research coupled with effective communication.
City name Name of the city in which the think tank head office (or main branch) is located. If states or provinces are commonly identified in the country also include here Washington, D.C.
Country Country where think tank is located USA
Location City and Country where think tank is located La Paz, Bolivia
Region World Bank geographical region for where the main office of the think tank is – though we have separated out Europe and Central Asia North America
Other offices A list of other offices the think tank may have, usually including just a list of cities and countries N/A
Full postal address Postal address of the think tank in the format of the country in which it is located. This should include the city and country again. 101a Idea Drive, Washington, D.C., 90293, USA
General contact email Email address of a general contact for the think tank. Do not include any personal accounts! [email protected]
Operating language(s) List of main languages the think tank operates in. English | French
Publication listing page URL of the webpage listing publications, if applicable. Links should not be to individual publications pages, but to the general publications page.
Job listing page URL of the webpage listing jobs, if applicable. As in publications links should not be to individual posting.
Events listing page URL of the webpage listing events, if applicable. Links should not be to individual events
Organisational structure Is the think tank structured as a business (for-profit) a charity (not-for-profit), part of a university, or is it government? Charity
Think tank affiliations Does the think tank have any particular affiliations, or does it operate as an independent, standalone organisation? Independent
Topics covered List of general topics covered by the think tank. See topic guidance in the directory FAQs for more information on specific topics Trade and economics | Health | Education
Climate subthemes List of subthemes in environment, management of natural resources, energy or agriculture if the think tank covers them Biodiversity | Fossil fuels | Adaptation and mitigation
Ideology/ Political leaning Indication of political ideology imbued in think tank. Centre-left
Primary geographies covered A list of the main geographical areas that the think tank researches about (might not the think tank´s location) Mid-west | New England
Date founded Date founded at the most accurate level available, usually year. 2001
Founder May be more than one person, or even another organisation. Titles can be included if needed Dr Individual McPearson
Gender Founder  Gender of the founder, if more than one person and of mixed gender select the both option. Leave blank if it was founded by another organisation Female
Director/Chief Executive Name of the director or chief executive of the think tank. Titles can be included if needed Dr Jane Doe
Gender Leader Gender of the leader, if more than one person and of mixed gender select the both option
Number of staff Number of staff. This includes all staff, whether researchers, communications, support, fulltime or part-time. It does not include research associates 23
Percentage female staff Percentage of female staff (all staff)
Percentage of female researchers Percentage of female researchers (any level)
Number of associates Number of research associates (sometimes called fellows)
Number of publications Number of publications last year. Includes any king of publications except: promotional material, blogs, comment pieces, or multimedia 2
Turnover In USD the amount of money turned over/received by the think tank in the last year. Convert to USD using the official exchange rate on 31 Dec on that year. $500,000
Financial year The start and end months of the financial year for the think tank. March – February
Twitter handle The Twitter handle of the organisation @thinktank
Twitter follower count The number of followers when the data was updated. 23054
Facebook page URL of the organisation’s Facebook page, if applicable
Facebook likes Number of likes on the organisation’s Facebook page, if applicable 259
YouTube channel URL of the organisation’s YouTube channel, if applicable
YouTube subscribers Number of subscribers to the organisation’s YouTube channel, if applicable 1035
Vimeo channel URL of the organisation’s Vimeo channel, if applicable
Vimeo subscribers Number of subscribers to the organisation’s Vimeo channel, if applicable 95

Other data considerations

  • University policy research centres and Twitter handles: Some university affiliated centres might be using the universities account and therefore appear to have more followers because of this.
  • Publication numbers: Publication numbers include any type of publication, excluding promotional material. Generally, blogs are not included.
  • Descriptions: The description of think tanks varies as we have tried to represent the think tanks as they present themselves. Also as the directory is used more by organizations, each will start describing themselves in the way they see fit. We encourage them to share, who they are, their aims/mission or objectives and main activities.


The list of topics is succinct in purpose. The objective is to provide an overview of the topics that an organisation focuses on and also enable comparisons. Here is a list of examples of what each topic includes:

Topics of research


Defence/ Peace/Security Military studies; Violence; Peace promotion
Education Education models; Strengthening the education system;
Environment/ Climate change* Rainforest; Adaptation and mitigation of climate change; Biodiversity; Forests
Food/ Agriculture * Value chains and agribusiness; Food Safety; Sustainable agriculture
Gender Women´s rights, Gender Violence,
Governance/ Transparency Citizenship; Democracy; Transparency; Decentralization
Health Infant nutrition; Drugs
International affairs /Development International relations
Law/ Justice / Human rights Discrimination; Trafficking
Media/Culture/ Sport Religion; Language
Natural resources/ Energy Energy efficiency; Fossil fuels
Private sector development Business; Entrepreneurship
Social policy Poverty; Protection of children and adolescents; Social inclusion;
Trade/ Economics Commerce; Macro economy; Fiscal studies
Technology/ Innovation Information Technology; Sustainable technologies
Transport / Infrastructure Engineering; Road policy

* Environment and climate change, Food and agriculture, and Natural resource management have subtopics in the directory which can be seen when downloading the full dataset.