Where does funding information for scholarly articles come from?

Overton gets funding data from FundRef, Europe PMC and Gateway to Research

Overton allows you to see where scholarly articles funded by a given organization are being cited in policy. But how do we know which articles are funded by who?

Accurate information about who has funded what research is hard to come by in the scholarly world. We get our information from four main places:

  • FundRef: this is a new database supported and run by CrossRef, which is the industry body for academic publishers. The data here comes directly from the authors of scholarly articles. It has broad coverage across many different funders… but generally over covers recent (2019-) papers.
  • Europe PMC: Europe PMC is the European version of PubMed Central, a large repository of open access articles. Europe PMC is funded by 33 funders who work with the site to ensure that the research they have funded is accurately flagged as such. Coverage for those 33 mostly European funders is good.
  • Gateway to Research: this is the web portal for UKRI, the umbrella body responsible for academic funding in the UK. The data here comes from authors, solicited through an annual data collection process. Coverage for papers funded by the different research councils in the UK is very good, but as you might expect the site does not contain data relevant to any other funders.
  • Working directly with funders: Overton is able to pull in lists of papers from funder customer CRIS systems or spreadsheets, ensuring that analyses across different platforms are always on the same starting dataset of papers.

What this means in practice – how to interpret results

If your organization – or the funder that you’re interested in – is a UK research council or supports Europe PMC then you can be reasonably confident that you’re getting a good picture of their outputs in policy when you search for them in Overton.

Otherwise Overton will only be able to tell you about those research articles that have funder information available in FundRef. This means that you probably won’t get the full picture when it comes to older policy citations and articles, as FundRef is a relatively new system and doesn’t contain a lot of historical data.

This is less of a problem if you’re looking at data from 2019 onwards but still worth bearing in mind.

The gold standard for funding data is for us to get it straight from the funding organization. If you’re a funder and you already maintain a list of funded outputs – either systematically or on an ad hoc basis – let us know and we’ll happily import these straight into Overton so that you can search against them.

Updated on February 7, 2024

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