Samantha Vilkins and Will Grant: What gets cited in Government publications?

16 November 2017

Getting more evidence into policy is one of the major challenges of science communication, and a recent election priority from Australia's major political parties. But what sort of information does the Government currently use as evidence? 

Master of Science Communication graduate Samantha Vilkins and CPAS academic Will Grant recently published a citation analysis of Australian Government documents, one of the first of its kind globally.

While previous studies have given us a clear idea of how policymakers go about their research, this is the first look at the types of evidence sources that are actually cited.

Overall, the most common references are from peer-reviewed journals — and predominantly open-access. But the mix of sources varies across departments, with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services with the highest number of academic references, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development with the highest number of business references, and the Department of the Treasury the highest number of Government references. 

The study offers new insight into how we can best measure and improve the impact of evidence in policy, and emphasises the need for better accessibility of policy documents. 

You can read the study in Scientometrics, or from the Australian National University's Open Research repository. Samantha presented the research at CPAS's SCOMaganza and you can view the presentation slides online