We conduct research on the social, democratic and environmental potential of open knowledge in countries around the world. Our research is undertaken for and in collaboration with civil society groups, journalists, policy-makers, universities, and public institutions.

Open Knowledge International is also a contributing partner of the Open Governance Research Exchange (OGRX). OGRX is a platform for browsing and sharing research findings about new, innovative ways to solve public problems.

If you’re interested in working with us or you’d like to find out more about what we’re doing, write to us at research@okfn.org or join our forum.


The following is a selection of reports that we have worked on:

Changing What Counts: How Can Citizen-Generated and Civil Society Data Be Used as an Advocacy Tool to Change Official Data Collection (2016)

The information systems of public institutions play a crucial role in how we collectively look at and act in the world. They shape the way decisions are made, progress is evaluated, resources are allocated, issues are flagged, debates are framed and action is taken.

Given the critical role of public information systems, what happens when they leave out parts of the picture that civil society groups consider vital? What can civil society actors do to shape or influence these systems so they can be used to advance progress around social, democratic and environmental issues?

This report looks at how citizens and civil society groups can generate data as a means to influence institutional data collection.


Open Budget Data: Mapping the Landscape (2015)

How public money is collected and distributed is one of the most pressing political questions of our time, influencing the health, well-being and prospects of billions of people - affecting the resourcing of essential public services or the capacity of public institutions to take action on global challenges such as poverty, inequality or climate change.

In this report we chart the definitions, actors, best practices, initiatives and issues associated with open budget data in different forms of digital media.

The report enables practitioners – in particular civil society organisations, intergovernmental organisations, governments, multilaterals and funders – to navigate this developing field and to identify trends, gaps and opportunities for supporting it.


Democratising the Data Revolution (2015)

What will the “data revolution” do? What will it be about? What will it count? What kinds of risks and harms might it bring? Whom and what will it serve? And who will get to decide?

This paper kickstarts discussions around more ambitious and substantive forms of democratic engagement with data infrastructures.

How might civil society actors shape the data revolution? In particular, how might they go beyond the question of what data is disclosed towards looking at what is measured in the first place?

The paper concludes with possible interventions and practical steps institutions and civil society organisations might take to change what our data infrastructures measure.


Where Does Europe’s Money Go? (2015) 

The lack of transparency and democratic accountability in European institutions is widely characterised as a “democratic deficit”, a phrase which has become part of the EU’s official glossary.

The “democratic deficit” is particularly apparent when it comes to EU public finances. This report aims to help civil society organisations (CSOs), journalists and others to navigate the vast landscape of documents and datasets about the EU’s fiscal affairs. In doing so, our objective is to support more evidence-based journalism and advocacy. Eventually this report seeks to contribute towards the transparency, public understanding and democratic accountability of EU public finances.


Joined-Up Data: Building Blocks for Common Standards (2013)

In recent years, many transparency and accountability initiatives across sectors have developed standards or adopted principles to guide how information is published. One way to combat the complexity of evolving standards is by identify the building blocks from which they are constructed. This presents transparency initiatives with an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration.

This study identifies building blocks of the data standards between five transparency initiatives in different sectors: aid, construction, contracting, extractives, and fiscal transparency.


Mapping the Open Spending Data Community (2013)

This report looks at how citizens, journalists, and civil society organisations around the world are using data on government finances. It describes what tools these actors are using and what their needs are in this area to advance their civic missions. Supported by Open Society Foundations.


Technology for Transparent and Accountable Public Finance (TTAPF) (2012)

This report maps projects around the world using web and mobile technologies in the service of fiscal transparency and accountability. The projects contained reflect all stages of the fiscal process: It demonstrates the users and audiences of the project, their motivations to use these tooles, as well as skills required.

This report also aims to highlight the gaps: In some instances, cutting-edge technology is being used in fields besides public finance, which may merit further exploration; in other cases, we highlight points in the budgeting cycle which are currently underserved by technical tools.


Beyond Access: Open Government Data & the Right to Re-use Public Information (2011)

This report compares the nature, strategies and composition of the open government data and right to information movements. It describes legal and technical obstacles and makes recommendations how to achieve full government transparency. Undertaken in collaboration with Access Info.