Source review: Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) will be removed as a policy attention source

Posted by Sarah Condon on 29th September 2021

Altmetric and policy sources

Altmetric tracks over 200 policy sources from around the world, from global organizations like the World Health Organization to local initiatives like the AfricaPortal. By tracking these sources, we aim to provide research stakeholders with insight into the ways in which their publications are used to inform public policy globally.

Altmetric’s policy corpus has grown substantially over the past few years – from a humble start of several dozen sources from a handful of countries, to around 240 sources from 55 countries today. 

To ensure that our policy coverage is meaningful and valuable we continue to evaluate which sources to add as well as considering if existing sources are still providing our users with valuable information.

Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO)

In 2016, Altmetric began tracking policy sources hosted on APO (then called Australian Policy Online, and now Analysis & Policy Observatory). APO hosts a large corpus of policy grey literature from hundreds of organizations, primarily based in Australia and New Zealand.

Over time, due to the way we pick up our mentions data, having APO as a policy source has caused some confusion with our customers who have seen journal articles attributed as policy mentions. As part of our continual review of our sources, and in line with the feedback from customers, we have therefore decided to remove APO as a policy source from the Altmetric Explorer. 

Impact of the removal of APO

The removal of APO as a policy source will have a few different impacts:

  • It will reduce the policy attention coverage in Australia and New Zealand. In preparation for this change, we have made an effort to add more individual Australian and New Zealand-based sources, such as the Australian Government Department of Health and Te Tai Ōhanga / The New Zealand Treasury. By supporting more individual sources from the region, we are aiming to give our Australian and New Zealand-based users more insight into which specific organizations are utilizing their research. We will continue to seek out additional policy sources to add in the region.
  • In addition to eliminating citations from journal articles, which we had incorrectly labelled as ‘policy’ mentions, it will also remove a number of true policy mentions. APO is currently Altmetric’s fourth-largest policy source in terms of the total number of mentions we have retrieved, with close to 200,000 mentions from over 13,000 individual documents. As a result, users may notice a drop in the policy mentions of their articles.

Although we are disappointed to remove APO as a source, we think that taking this action now will result in a better user experience for our customers and those looking to gather meaningful insights from our tools. As mentioned above, we will continue to seek out additional policy sources in the region as we expand our policy database.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this change, please email us at [email protected].