Overton Blog

Overton's guide to impact planning

At Overton, we want to make it as easy as possible for researchers to find, prove and grow their policy influence. We do this to support the scholarly community, and broaden what we understand as 'research impact' (defined by the UK Research Excellence Framework or REF as “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life beyond academia"). But also - crucially - to improve how policy is put together, by demystifying the process and making it easier for researchers and policymakers to engage with each other. 

In this blog we introduce our new guide 'How to... Use Overton to plan for impact' for those hoping to create research that affects real world change. Guide author and Overton analyst Kat Hart draws on her experience as a PhD student and former knowledge broker in the CAPE project, alongside her knowledge of the Overton platform, to unpick how you might identify evidence gaps or opportunities to find where research has the potential to inform policy

Kat lays out some strategies for those hoping to create influential research. She provides a ‘how to’ guide for engaging with policy using the Overton index, by outlining different analytical approaches - with the caveats we think users should consider.

We hope that this is a useful resource for those hoping to deepen their understanding of the mechanisms of policy engagement, and also demonstrates a different way to use the Overton Index!

While many will be familiar with its use as a discovery tool (for finding policy and grey literature) and a tracking tool (to track policy citations to demonstrate the reach of research), you may not realise that the platform can be used to analyse dynamics of interaction between policymakers and academia, to identify trends and extract learnings about the use of evidence. This should help you develop a strategy to create work that's more likely to get picked up by decision makers.

Read the guide here, and find out how to use Overton to:

  • Find evidence gaps that have been identified by policy organisations 
  • Learn about the current policy issues in your field
  • Understand the pathways of influence, by:
    • Looking at which policy organisations are publishing work in your field of interest
    • Seeing which knowledge brokers are cited by governments to find indirect routes to influence or ‘citation circles’
    • Finding out how policymakers ‘talk’ about your subject area to find the best way of presenting information to them

What is Overton

We help universities, think tanks and publishers understand the reach and influence of their research.

The Overton platform contains is the world’s largest searchable policy database, with over 12 million documents from 32k organisations.

We track everything from white papers to think tank policy briefs to national clinical guidelines, and automatically find the references to scholarly research, academics and other outputs.