What’s your definition of a policy document?

There isn’t a broadly accepted, pragmatic definition of what a “policy document” is – in the context of Overton we define them very broadly as documents written primarily for or by policymakers that are published by a policy focused source.

We’re interested in not just the policy or legislation itself but in the evidence and thinking that has influenced it, which usually involves other groups and might cover things like technical reports, policy briefs and speeches.

We collect policy documents from governments and official bodies but also from IGOs, some NGOs and think tanks. This is the “policy focused source” aspect: we want to collect documents from organizations that explicitly aim to influence government policy by producing research or publications. We can generally tell if an organization is policy focused by looking at how often it is being cited by government sources in Overton.

We try to strike a balance – we want to collect as many documents relevant to the qualitative analysis of policy decisions as possible while still being able to describe fairly clearly what is and isn’t included in the Overton index, which is important for some types of quantitative analysis.

Updated on February 7, 2024

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