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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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OTT Best Practice Series

The OTT Best Practice Series includes a set of documents that deal with a different topic and a best practice statement, based on the experiences of different think tanks. Each post also deals with the issue of credibility in one way or another, and the key message that came out was this: use of best practice in management, communications and governance helps to increase respect for think tanks and improve their effectiveness and efficiency.
  1. 1

    Introducing the Best Practice Series

    In 2017, OTT published a set of documents under the OTT Best Practice Series. Each document dealt with a different topic and produced a best practice statement, based on the experiences of different think tanks. Each post also dealt with the issue of credibility in one way or another, and the... Read full article
  2. 2

    Good think tank practices for archiving research projects

    Over the past 25 years I have had substantial interaction with a couple dozen think tanks on various administrative questions, and the topic of archiving key products and background materials for research projects has never been raised. At the three think tanks at which I spent my working... Read full article
  3. 3

    Ensuring you are hiring qualified research staff: Guarding against CV padding

    There are indications of CV padding being a significant problem, including for positions requiring graduate degrees. Although statistically reliable evidence is absent, a few examples of documented misrepresentation suggest its breadth. A survey conducted by, a... Read full article
  4. 4

    Donors’ best financial practice in granting to think tanks

    Simply put, the full cost of a research project rightfully includes a share of the overall non–project specific costs needed to operate the organization as a sustainable going concern. Knowing the full cost of a research project sets a baseline for financial analysis of the project (within... Read full article
  5. 5

    Structuring off-site staff trainings

    Training needs arise from on-boarding new staff and from the need to improve staff quality. Most think tanks experience significant staff turnover, particularly at the junior researcher level and among lower level support staff—as people leave and are replaced, and, in some cases, as the... Read full article
  6. 6

    Managing consultants on think tank research projects

    Essentially, all think tanks turn to consultants to supplement their resident staff. Often a think tank undertakes a project for which it has some of the required experts but not all, and it adds a consultant with the missing expertise to the project team. Less frequently, consultants are... Read full article
  7. 7

    Towards innovative fundraising strategies for think tanks

    Fundraising remains a challenge for most organisations, and the need to explore innovative ways to remain sustainable and competitive is imperative. In this digital age, organisations are continuously exploring new approaches to fundraising to remain relevant in an increasingly dynamic... Read full article
  8. 8

    Monitoring costs on research projects: often a challenge for senior managers

    Financial disasters in the form of major project cost overruns appear to happen to a significant share of think tanks, with some think tanks experiencing them with frequency. Common consequences include the inability to set aside funds for new initiatives (including adding key staff); senior... Read full article
  9. 9

    Professional Development Grants for motivating research staff

    It is obvious that a think tank’s staff is its most valuable resource. High staff turnover and low productivity are clear signs of an under-motivated staff. Actually, signs of staff ennui in the form of high turnover rates appear to be fairly common. Among the 59 think tanks in transition... Read full article
  10. 10

    Greater policy impact: Stronger post-project engagement

    Think tanks exist to improve the quality of decisions made by governments at all levels. Most are rightly concerned about their image as an organization that demonstrably contributes to development of strong policies and programs for its country. Considerable resources are devoted to... Read full article
  11. 11

    The significant evolution in staff assessments: a good fit for think tanks?

    There is an ongoing, comparatively quiet evolution in the business world, especially among tech firms, large consultancies and major international law firms, to refashion their traditional staff performance assessment systems and staff annual goal setting. Long simmering dissatisfaction began... Read full article
  12. 12

    Did COVID-19 change think tanks’ annual staff assessments?

    Two recent developments may be having significant effects on the way think tanks are structuring their staff assessments. First, is the simplification of elaborate systems with more streamlined ones that emphasise more frequent, less formal feedback and discussions partially or fully taking... Read full article
  13. 13

    Transición de liderazgo en la Dirección Ejecutiva de un centro de pensamiento: Análisis, lecciones y recomendaciones de un estudio de caso

    Esta publicación fue elaborada por Leandro Echt sobre la base de un documento de reflexión elaborado por Martha Farmelo, consultora independiente en fortalecimiento de ONGs, en base a su experiencia con transiciones de liderazgo que fue compartido con On Think Tanks. La dirección ejecutiva... Read full article
  14. 14

    Authorship assignment: Recognising the contributions of individual authors of multi-authored reports

    Step-by-step over the past 50 years the production of social science research, including policy research, has shifted from a solitary enterprise to a team effort. The mental picture of research being done by a senior faculty member or a senior fellow at a research and policy institute (RPI),... Read full article
  15. 15

    Embedding communications staff in research teams to increase policy impact

    Today, most policy research organisations have some degree of in-house communications support. Typically, this is a centralised team. However, in some organisations communications staff are also embedded within research teams. We spoke to four such policy research organisations (PROs) about... Read full article