E Magazine Issue 10 January 2020

Think Tanks: Think About It, Seriously


Think tanks are fast becoming the go-to resource for paving to the way towards a career in research. Syeda Ailiya tells us what think tanks are all about and how you can be part of one.

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n his book The Fifth Estate: Think Tanks, Public Policy and Governance, James G McGann aptly defines think tanks as “public policy research, analysis, and engagement institutions that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues that enable policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues. Think tanks may be affiliated with a political party, a university, or a government; they are independent institutions that are structured as permanent bodies, not ad hoc commissions.” While this definition might seem broad, it is more important to understand the role of think tanks in bridging the divide between academics and policymakers by acting as a medium through which research can be applied to policymaking for the greater good of the public. In Pakistan, a limited understanding of a profession in social science subjects has resulted in a lack of students willing to study them in higher education. A lack of information on the scope, career pathway and job opportunities in these particular fields have further added to the discouragement amongst pupils in pursuing these subjects. It is essential to apprise the upcoming generation of social scientists in the country regarding adopting research as a profession.According to the University of Pennsylvania’s 2018 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, there are a total of 25 think tanks in Pakistan. There has been a gradual increase in the number, many of which are still not part of the list. Majority of these policy institutes are located in Islamabad.