Sharing data: a first step using infographics
[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Maria Urbina-Fauser, Programme Officer at the Think Tank Initiative IDRC at Research to Action.]
“How can we best share the vast amount of data we have on over 40 think tanks around the globe?” This has always been a tough question for us at the Think Tank Initiative. We have struggled with the issue of confidentiality (what can we actually share?); with the matter of usefulness (why would we want to share it?); and finally, with the question of how to practically put it out in the world in an engaging manner (will it be understood?).
As part of our efforts to share our data more widely, we have organised two basic sets of TTI data through the use of infographics. These enable us to present information in a more engaging way on (1) the thematic research areas of the think tanks that we support and (2) a sample of collaborative projects they have been involved in through funds from TTI in the past two years.
The first infographic shows the broad range of research that the think tanks supported by the Initiative carry out. We have identified 8 very general thematic areas as a start, fully understanding the nuanced research that most of the think tanks carry out and the fact that we have aggregated this research to the lowest common denominator. This infographic allows us to plot the themes that our 43 think tanks focus on in their research, and to view the patterns that emerge (in a way that written documents simply would not).
The second infographic inventories the connections made between the TTI-supported think tanks among themselves and with many other stakeholders, as the result of a TTI funding scheme called Opportunity Funds (previously known as Matching Funds), which funded 49 collaborative projects. This infographic shows us how many connections are being made both within and outside of TTI. It also demonstrates that TTI has indeed fostered a great deal of collaboration over the past two years, which has led to some very exciting results. Much more information is available about those on our webpage.
Organising our data is important for us. We can easily see how many questions emerge from this simple cataloguing exercise. Questions such as: what are the think tanks collaborating on? What are the emerging themes on which think tanks are having an impact? Is regional collaboration more ‘effective’ than global? And so on.
We’ll continue to find new ways to organise and share our data, and invite any thoughts you might have on our approach to this.
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