Revamped IssueLab Lets Social Sector Share Accumulated Knowledge in New Ways
Foundation Center Curates Free Collection of 20,000 Reports, Case Studies, and Evaluations
New York, NY -- June 13, 2016. Foundation Center, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide, is rolling out a new set of tools to help users of its IssueLab service share reports, case studies, evaluations, and other knowledge created by foundations, nonprofits, and university-based research centers.
"These new tools will make the accumulated knowledge of the social sector easier to find, share, and build on," said Gabriela Fitz, director of knowledge management initiatives at Foundation Center. "IssueLab is devoted to organizing and leveraging the social sector's common knowledge for the common good."
The result of a year-long, six-figure investment, the new IssueLab platform makes it easier to upload, discover, and freely share research by providing metadata and links to original documents on publishers' websites. New features include:
- An improved interface that makes it easier and faster to upload research to IssueLab and share items via a website, blog, or on social media.
- Filtered search, the ability to curate user libraries, and "what to read next" suggestions for related research streamline and improve user experience.
- The ability to issue Digital Object Identifiers, or DOIs, for qualifying resources ensuring long-term discoverability and accessibility across the Internet and on archival sites such as WorldCat, the world's largest library catalog.
- Metadata such as keyword search, date published, geography, and language to facilitate powerful search and browsing across 38 different issue areas.
As part of the makeover, IssueLab has also expanded its custom services for institutional clients, including synthesis reports, special collections, and Knowledge Centers. A recent example is freshwater.issuelab.org, created in partnership with Pacific Institute and The Rockefeller Foundation, to highlight incentive-based approaches to the management of freshwater.
The project includes features such as an interactive summary of market approaches to water management and access to more than 400 reports and case studies on freshwater. Knowledge Centers take the look and feel of an institution's website and wrap it around IssueLab's existing tool set, bringing resources into an easily manageable, searchable, browsable collection.
IssueLab encourages the social sector to put more emphasis on its role as a purveyor of knowledge. A survey of Foundation Center's grants data shows that in 2012, U.S.-based private and community foundations made more than $210 million in grants for evaluation or research. But much of this knowledge goes uncollected, shared at best on a nonprofit or foundation's website, which may not allow others to put the work in context with similar research.
"The vast majority of knowledge-producing organizations in the social sector begin and end their publishing efforts by posting their publications to their website," said Lisa Brooks, director of knowledge management systems at Foundation Center. "Our sector has tended to under-value the knowledge we generate or treat research much as they would communications and outreach efforts."
Through its overall collection and special reports, IssueLab helps the social sector to make connections and facilitates scans of issue-areas. Other professional fields share their knowledge much more effectively and systematically, Brooks said. For example, the National Institutes of Health website, PubMed, curates some three million pieces of health research that are discoverable, savable, and freely available for download.
"Open knowledge and publishing our research will bring all of us closer to why we invest in social sector research to begin with -- to better understand and raise awareness about pressing social problems, and to deepen the impact of the work we do to solve them," Brooks added.
IssueLab, founded by Fitz and Brooks, became part of Foundation Center in 2012 and currently hosts more than 20,000 pieces of research published and/or funded by more than 7,000 institutions from across the globe. It's free to use, licensed under Creative Commons, and the site welcomes work published or funded by a social sector organization, foundation, or university-based research center. Learn more and upload research here.
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About Foundation Center
Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants -- a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center's website each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit foundationcenter.org or call (212) 620-4230.