Overton Blog

Overton in research: new paper alert!

New research from academics at the University of Warsaw and the Warsaw University of Technology uses Overton data as a baseline to highlight the increase in publications related to climate change, to help them understand how to improve the tracking and analysis of climate policy across the world. 

Here, we’ll explore this pre-print paper and how the Overton database helped them come to their conclusions.

What is the paper about?

TITLE: Climate Policy Tracker: Pipeline for automated analysis of public climate policies

AUTHORS: Artur Zółkowski, Mateusz Krzyzinski, Piotr Wilczynski, Stanisław Gizinski, Emilia Wisnios, Bartosz Pielinski, Julian Sienkiewicz and Przemysław Biecek

In this pre-print paper, Zółkowski et al explain how they created a model to analyse and compare energy and climate plans from across the EU. Their goal was to improve understanding of climate policy by analysing the language used to describe specific issues, across policy documents from different countries. They hope this will help researchers understand how different governments frame their climate plans and achieve their environmental goals.

They start by recognising the importance of effective public policy to address climate change, but acknowledge that these documents are insufficient without the underpinning public behaviour change driven by effective state governance. It’s crucial to understand the framing of these policies better, as the language used has been found to influence policy dynamics in the long run. 

However, so much climate policy is being produced that manual analysis is extremely difficult, inefficient and costly. However their model - which uses the Latent Dirichlet Allocation algorithm - is able to quickly and effectively analyse these policies by detecting alignment/differences in framing, by comparing the language used. 

They hope that their work will improve public understanding of the policy landscape by shedding light on how environmental issues are framed and so increase citizen engagement with climate plans. They also hope that it functions as a starting point for future work on the automatic analysis of climate policy. They think this automation is an important way of tracking and understanding how policies work, change over time and impact things like the economy.

They also stress that their model can be applied to analyse different kinds of policy documents, not only those relating to climate change, making this a useful study for many other policy researchers.

How did they use the Overton data?

They sourced their policy documents from the Overton’s app, choosing our database as it is the largest in the world. They used the query “climate change” to check the number of public policies available, getting 322012 results from 171 countries. They analysed 81643 from the​​ USA, 61884 from Intergovernmental Organisations, 55393 from the United Kingdom and 40480 from the EU. 

They also used the date function to see how many documents were being published year on year, and establish conclusively that the amount of climate policy is increasing dramatically.

See a full list of papers using Overton data in our Zotero library.

Are you a bibliometric scholar interested in policy? Contact us and get free access to the Overton database to help you in your research.

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 almost 5 million documents from 29k 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.