Think Tanks in Armenia: Who Needs their Thinking?
By Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan
What does the think tank landscape look like in Armenia?
First of all, the term itself remains an alien catchword that has not taken root (and, frankly, perhaps it should not). Translated into Armenian (ուղեղաին կենտրոն) it sounds utterly ridiculous. Of the 11 Armenian think tanks mentioned by name in the Global Go Think Tanks Index Report 2014, in fact, only one describes itself as a think tank (in English, but not in Armenian). Some organizations prefer to call themselves research centers: a name that is easily translatable into Armenian. Others have broader descriptions corresponding to their general mandate (“an academic bridge between diaspora [sic] and native Armenian scholars” or a “non-governmental organization … which aims to assist and promote the establishment of a free and democratic society in Armenia”).
Taking a closer look at those 11 organizations (supposedly the top Armenian think tanks as ranked by external reviewers) is an interesting reality check. As the 21st century saying goes: if you are not online, you don’t exist. How do these 11 names fare in a Google search? The table below summarizes the results.
Table 1. Online presence of Armenian entities mentioned by name in the Global Go Think Tanks Index Report 2014
This short overview of the Armenian think tank landscape and their visibility online, leads to a number of questions:
1. Does Armenian public need to know more about the think tanks? Should think tanks prioritize public outreach more, or should they use their scarce resources to target donors and top decision-makers?
2. Do donors have a responsibility to share think tank outputs with the public in a language accessible to the public?
3. How can we ensure the quality of Armenian language outputs, given that the circle of potential peer-reviewers is so small?
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