Overton Blog

Powered by Overton: explaining our collaborations

At Overton, we like to think of our data as our superpower – the force behind our mission to make a positive impact. We hold the world's largest curated database of policy documents, and it's growing every day!

By making policy documents & citations visible and accessible, we're hoping to shine a light on the intricacies of policymaking. Not only does this help our users identify how to engage with the creation of policy, but also fosters a sense of accountability among decision makers. We want to ensure that the decisions shaping people's lives are rooted in the best possible evidence.

On the research side of things we partner directly with academics, supporting them with data and small grants.

On the product side we’ve also teamed up with other organisations to build databases & applications that tackle specific challenges.  Often these secondary products use our data and were built in-house by the Overton team, but they’ve all involved partnering with other groups whose reach, connections or expertise made the end result better than what we could have accomplished alone.

In this blog we’ll run through our collaborations, exploring the unique contributions each partnership brings to the table, and how it helps us further our vision of a better connected research/policy community.

Why is collaboration so important?

Our flagship app allows users to:

  1. discover and analyse policy
  2. measure impact through citations and name mentions
  3. better engage with policymakers

We do lots of automated and manual curation to organise and annotate the data, making it easy to uncover documents and find the connections between them. With full text search and policy to policy citations, you can see how evidence is used across the policy landscape, giving a fuller picture of how ideas and influence spread through different policy actors and sources.

But some use cases don’t need the full database, or benefit from simpler interfaces and by combining parts of Overton’s offering with journal citations and other datasets. 

Generally we’re keen for more people to see, use and give feedback on policy data, to help broaden the scope of what impacts are considered and to enrich the conversation about the societal influence of scholarship. Partnering to share the data with new audiences in new contexts and more digestible formats is a big part of this.

Tracking impact

Sage Policy Profiles

We teamed up with leading social science publisher Sage to create a free impact tool for individual researchers – Sage Policy Profiles. A streamlined, mobile friendly interface enables researchers to track and visualise their global policy impact with a personalised dashboard which can be exported and shared, for showcasing their impact to others. 

It is designed to look only at publications you’ve authored: you can’t search for others or for policy documents more generally. We wanted to create an experience for individual academics, centred around the data they might need for grant applications, their resume or promotion & tenure packages.

Sage has great relationships with their authors, readers and editors and the collaboration underscores a shared mission to redefine and evolve how research impact is understood and measured - Sage were talking about wider impacts for years before they were cool and we were keen to work on something that empowered individual researchers together.

BMJ Impact Analytics

We partnered with BMJ to create the award-winning BMJ Impact AnalyticsThe collaboration combines BMJ's health expertise with Overton's data knowledge to create a new app uniquely tailored to the needs of the medical community.

BMJ Impact Analytics differs from the main app in that it focuses specifically on health and social care. It excludes irrelevant documents but incorporates unique new sources like BMJ Best Practice - BMJ's clinical decision support tool for health professionals - as well as care pathways and clinical guidelines. These new sources show where research is having an impact on the ground, directly supporting patient outcomes.


Elsevier is a globally recognised publisher, whose products include journals like the Lancet and online citation database Scopus. 

We’re really pleased to have partnered with them to expand the suite of research indicators available to their customers - policy citation data from Overton powers the policy impact module for SciVal and the policy citations tab in PlumX

By combining traditional citations, policy documents, and altmetrics, these Elsevier products give users a more complete picture of where their work is getting attention and sparking discussion.

Connecting researchers with decision makers

Ideally, policy should be based on robust evidence. Policymakers need accurate and up-to-date information to make informed decisions. However, they don’t always have access to expertise. Sometimes they don’t have the skills or knowledge to judge what is ‘good’ evidence. We want to change this. The past few years have seen growing calls to improve collaboration between researchers and policymakers - for governments to be clearer about where their  knowledge gaps are and to lower the barriers for researchers to engage with them. 

We’re keen to foster this culture of cooperation, and to streamline the process wherever we can. We see our role as that of a connector - we help researchers and policymakers access each other more easily, and make the engagement pathways more visible.

The UK Government ARIs

In partnership with Kathryn Oliver & Annette Boaz (Transforming Evidence), the Government Office for Science and the ESRC, Overton created a searchable database of the 'Areas of Research Interest' published by UK governmental bodies.

This initiative aims to improve collaboration between researchers and government by consolidating questions from policymakers for researchers in one easily accessible database.

Unlike other Overton collaborations, the ARI database isn't focused on tracking impact but rather aims to foster research-policy collaboration, helping researchers to align their work with government priorities. It gives policymakers an easy way to find experts, and it allows researchers to tailor their output to the issues that are most pressing, increasing the likelihood of them doing impactful work. 

Learn more about our collaborations

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 31k 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.