State Library Victoria members can access hundreds of databases from home (if your home is in Victoria). That’s millions of articles, magazines, archives, ebooks, videos, songs, audiobooks and more, available through the catalogue anytime. We’re taking a closer look at new and/or interesting databases as well as hidden gems from our collections. Read on for top picks and tips from Librarians.

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Today we’re looking at the Analysis & Policy Observatory. This database was initially developed by Swinburne University in 2001 to facilitate easy access to high level research reports across public policy ranging from science and technology, the natural and built environment, to health, education and social issues.

The content is freely available and doesn’t require a log-in. This database draws vast amounts of research together and ensures it remains accessible.

Searching and browsing

The database works well for browsing content. From the Browse option in the navigation bar at the top of the screen, I can just point and click to drill down through the hierarchies.

Image of subject hierarchies

For example:

Built environment> Planning> Cities & Towns> Smart Cities

I can also search by keyword. For example I could search for ‘gambling social effects’. This brings back a range of research from a number of organisations:

  • Centre for Social Research and Methods
  • Australian Gambling Research Centre
  • Australian Institute of Criminology
  • Victorian Auditor-General’s Office
  • Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation

The form of the research is also categorised. For example the results of the above search includes working papers; evaluations; journal articles; reports; and discussion papers.

There is only a basic research function, but there are options at the right of the screen to refine your search by date published; subject; publisher; author; geographic coverage; and resource type.

What makes this database so great?

It is great for a number of reasons.

  • it gives easy access to high level research on areas of public policy
  • the content is specific to Australia, and more broadly Oceania, but does include relevant items from other parts of the world
  • it is up-to-date, reliable and heavily scrutinised
  • all this research is gathered in one place
  • when you find a relevant article the database offers suggestions for similar items
Image of a selection of reports on Artificial Intelligence

A selection of reports on Artificial Intelligence sourced from the APO database

What can I find?

This database is a one-stop shop for research, including papers from parliamentary committees, government departments, think tanks, universities and independent institutes and groups.

For example I can –

  • find discussion papers on different aspects of Artificial Intelligence
  • investigate possible solutions to control of feral cats
  • research into energy efficient buildings

In fact I can find substantial research on almost any issue that relates to public policy and future decision-making.

We hope you enjoy exploring the Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) database.

For more information about research and resources at State Library Victoria, visit the Library’s research guides.

We always welcome your recommendations for database trials  – let us know what you’d like to see.  Have a research query or questions on how to use our online collections? Ask a Librarian.

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