[a previous version of this post appeared On Think Tanks]
Transparency sometimes can appear like a hard thing to do. Making information available can be an extra effort. Transparency may also invite additional scrutiny. It’s thus not obvious that institutions always welcome disclosure.
Yet Transparify’s experience over the past two years suggests otherwise. Many think tanks welcomed our work. They were enthusiastic about becoming more transparent. Several dozen think tanks engaged, increasing their disclosure, as our 2015 report highlights.
Why? Ask the think tankers themselves – they make a very powerful case in favor of transparency. Here is an overview of their contributions to our blog.
- Natalia Aquilino (CIPPEC, Argentina), Transparency from a Southern Think Tank’s Point of View
- Katie Douglas Martel & Todd Moss (Center for Global Development, United States), CGD's Decision to Walk the Transparency Walk
- Steve Barker (World Resources Institute, United States), A Culture of Transparency at the World Resources Institute
- Eka Gigauri (Transparency International Georgia), Full-On Transparency in Georgia
- Alan Hudson (Global Integrity, United States), Five Stars for Transparency
- Daniel Kaufmann (Natural Resource Governance Institute, United States), Seeing Stars: How and Why NRGI Improved Its Financial Reporting
- Muhammad AsifIqbal (Social Policy and Development Centre, Pakistan), Transparency as a Public Good: Why SPDC Publishes Who Funds US
- Brian Finlay (Stimson Center, United States), Stimson: Being Transparent Builds Trust and Boosts Impact
- Jenn Topper (Sunlight Foundation, United States), Sunlight gets 5-star transparency rating from Transparify
One common theme across many of these contributions is that transparency is part of research excellence – it communicates confidence in the integrity of one’s findings. In that way, transparency contributes to an open and constructive debate.
This, too, is a reason why we think that transparency should be the default for policy research and advocacy. We hope that more think tanks will join to help set the standard. We believe journalists should routinely ask think tanks and policy experts how they are funded, and highlight when funding sources remain opaque. Also, we think that donors should nudge their grantees to become more transparent. Funding transparency by itself is not a guarantee of integrity, but it is one of the best starting points for a broader debate.
If you want to share your perspective on the importance of transparency, we would very much welcome your contribution to our blog or, as an additional step, you could connect to this theme through On Think Tanks itself.
Interested in how to increase your transparency? Go here to find out how to get 5-star transparency.