Analysis & Policy Observatory

Analysis & Policy Observatory (also known as APO) is a not-for-profit open access subject repository or digital library, specialising in public policy and practice grey literature and journal articles, mainly from Australia and New Zealand, with some coverage of other countries. Formerly known as Australian Policy Online, the organisation underwent a name change to Analysis & Policy Observatory (APO) in 2017.


APO was established in 2002 by the Swinburne Institute for Social Research, at Swinburne University in Melbourne. It was intended as a way to collate and disseminate academic research reports and other grey literature that was increasingly proliferating online. It has since established itself as a notable resource for people involved in policy research in Australia and New Zealand.[1] It now sits as part of the Centre of Urban Transitions within Swinburne University of Technology.

APO is a not-for-profit organisation supported by partnerships with academic institutions and government agencies, grants donations and advertising revenue.[2] Partners include the Australian National Data Service, ANZSOG, the University of Canberra, the Henry Halloran Trust at the University of Sydney, and the University of South Australia. APO has also been an awarded a number of Australian Research Council grants.


APO was established to address the transformation of the means of production for publications brought about by the internet. Frustrations with the limitations of the academic publishing system – long delays, lack of access or audience – were causing producers of academic and other content to move online and increasingly produce grey literature (informally published written material, such as reports, that may be difficult to trace via conventional channels). The informal channels used to disseminate digital grey literature have meant that libraries and other services have only been able to collect it in an ad hoc manner. APO aims to make digital research content that is relevant to Australian policy debates more easily discoverable, accessible and able to be managed.[3]


APO specialises in collecting public policy reports and articles from academic research centres, think tanks, government and non-government organisations. As well as research, the site includes a smaller collection of opinion and commentary pieces, video, audio and web resources focused on policy issues.[4] Most content is produced by other organisations and collected and catalogued on the site, although some commentary is original to APO.


In 2011, the then Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet described APO as providing “some of the most valuable and constructive contributions to Australia’s policy debate”.[5] However, APO has also been criticised on the grounds that it “could perhaps do more to engage with the formal political workings of government through providing access to formal government policy information.”[1]

In 2012, the report of the Independent Inquiry into Media and Media Regulation by the Hon Raymond Antony Finkelstein QC stated that: "While the start-up costs for new print publications have been prohibitive and inhibited new enterprises emerging, the streamlining of the relationship between content producers and consumers has led to many new websites and web-based services. Among the most important such websites that have grown up in Australia over the last decade are Inside Story, Australian Policy Online, Online Opinion, The Drum, The Conversation, and New Matilda."[6]

In August 2014, APO won the "Information" category at the Australia & New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA).[7]


  1. Bellamy, C., Gibbs, M., Williamson, A., Sean Cubit, S. (December 2011). "Political Issue Analysis System: Policy deliberation in the age of information abundance" Archived 2014-02-04 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 17 October 2013 from "Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society" Archived 2010-09-18 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Funding and support" Archived 2014-03-13 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 13 March 2014 from "Policy Online".
  3. Mackey, M., Magnifico, C., Tyler, K. (August 2013). "The Effects of the Internet and Open Access on the Usage of Grey Literature: a review of the literature". Retrieved 18 November 2013 from "Scribd".
  4. "Useful research and policy databases". Retrieved 17 October 2013 from "Media Access Australia".
  5. Moran, T. (28 July 2011)."The John Paterson Oration 2011" Archived 2011-10-19 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 17 October 2013 from "The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet".
  6. Finkelstein, R. (March 2012). "Independent Inquiry into Media and Media Regulation" Archived 2014-02-12 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 17 October 2013 from "DBCDE Archive" Archived 2013-10-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. "Winners". Retrieved 1 September 2014 from "Australia & New Zealand Internet Awards (ANZIA)".
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