Transparify to Re-Assess All Think Tanks in November

Transparify will begin re-rating think tanks worldwide on November 02, 2015. The assessment will cover all 169 think tanks that we have already rated twice for our previous flagship reports, in order to document their progress. Transparify assesses to what degree think tanks disclose who funds their research and advocacy, using a 5-star rating scale.

Transparify will this year for the first time additionally rate dozens of major think tanks in Britain and Australia. In Britain, we expect to be able to document huge progress from a low baseline. In Australia, the baseline was even lower when we last looked, but the trend there is also positive, with several think tanks reporting that they plan to disclose additional information shortly.

Our ratings process follows a strict protocol designed to ensure data reliability. To date, Transparify has released over 300 data points for think tanks and advocacy groups around the world, and has been widely endorsed. The method is replicable, and has been used by a number of external efforts inspired by Transparify's method. 

The full rating results listing all think tanks will be published in our annual flagship report in February 2016. In past years, our rating results have attracted wide media coverage, ranging from a front page story in the New York Times to the main evening television news programme in Namibia.

Over the past years, the field as a whole has taken huge strides towards greater funding transparency. We look forward to welcoming even more think tanks into the ranks of the transparent this time around!

The Transparify Team



Transparify proudly presents its 2015 think tank transparency report, detailing the levels of financial disclosure of over 160 think tanks located in 47 countries worldwide.

Good news:

·         Over 26 think tanks have disclosed significantly more data over the past year

·         A total of 31 policy research institutions are now highly transparent (5-star)

·         Over half of U.S. think tanks are now broadly or highly transparent

For more details, please see our 2015 REPORT and accompanying PRESS RELEASE with media contact details.

Over the coming two days, we will collect reactions from the media and think tankers worldwide and post a summary on this blog.

Why is think tank transparency important? Nobody can answer that question better than think tanks themselves. Scroll down to learn why three excellent institutions – the Natural Resource Governance Institute, the Social Policy and Development Centre, and the Stimson Center– chose to become fully transparent, and follow the links to their funding pages to see what full disclosure looks like in practice.



Fund a Think Tank, Buy a Lobbyist?

As mentioned in our last post, there recently has been an intriguing debate on the role of think tanks, following a newspaper piece in the New York Times. In case you had not seen it, the definite roster on this debate is kept by Think Tank Watch, and worth checking out

Now Till Bruckner, who does communications for Transparify, also contributed a piece to the Huffington Post.

Till concludes the article by saying: "The key words here are debate and dialogue. Before we all begin casting stones, let's remember that most self-respecting think tanks, most of the time, have absolutely nothing to hide, and that they too realize that their impact on policy hinges on their credibility as independent sources of research and policy advice."

Comments welcome, and for the full piece, go here.

More than 20 Think Tanks Join to Promote Transparency

Several think tanks worldwide have now agreed to promote transparency by putting more information on their funding online. Transparify has tried to directly contact all of the over 160 think tanks we are rating, and by now, many of them have gotten back to us. To date, more than 20 think tanks have already committed themselves to achieving a five star transparency rating over the coming weeks by publishing details on who funds them on their websites.

In total, think tanks from more than 12 countries have decided to embrace transparency. The ranks of transparent research institutions worldwide has to date grown by five think tanks in Africa, at least three in Asia, at least eight in Europe, and currently five in North America. (We will release the names of all leading institutions later this month, when we have the completed our data set.)

The large geographical spread shows that financial transparency is possible in a wide range of political, legal and administrative contexts, leaving few excuses for opacity by those think tanks that still lag behind. At the same time, think tank critics should note that several think tanks immediately responded positively to our request, showing that many – though not all – institutions are very open to constructive engagement on this issue and feel that they have confidence in the integrity of their work.

Note that the figures above do not include the (small minority) of think tanks that were already highly transparent when we initially assessed them.

Transparify hopes that more think tanks will boost the credibility of their research by committing themselves to transparency before Transparify releases its complete rating results later this month and honours the leaders in the field.