Giving civil society organizations’ research the superpower of open data

3 min readJul 19, 2023


Batman and Superman legos sitting together
Giving civil society organizations’ research the superpower of open data

How a superhero acquires a superpower is often down to fate. However, many civil society organizations (that may not know it) are in a position to gift a superpower to their data by making it open. By opening up your research, organizations give data a second life that other organizations can use to help people and protect the planet.

Open data can’t save the world alone, but it can be used to improve people’s lives. In Croatia, for example, garment workers joined a trade union for the first time in three facilities because open data showed their wages were far less than the fashion brand’s public living wage promise. The data also spawned a proactive nationwide movement called the Croatian Coalition for Living Wage that engages with lawmakers and companies to secure living wages.

Getting results like this starts with research managers at civil society organizations taking a leap of faith and turning research into open data. When Fashion Revolution¹ and Clean Clothes Campaign² added data to the Wikirate open data platform, they gave their data superpowers. They permitted others to freely use, modify and share the data and put it in a place where anyone can view and download the data for free.

With these powers, the Fashion Checker was made possible, a tool that connects the dots between brand commitments to pay living wages and the reality for workers on the ground.

To get there, Wikirate helped Clean Clothes Campaign and Fashion Revolution to combine their data sets³ on brand wage commitments and supply chain transparency.

This allowed Clean Clothes to add major fashion brands to their tool. In turn, advocates for better wages, like trade unions, could use the tool to verify wage commitments against reality, as was the case in Croatia.

Opening up the data in this way has clear benefits for people and helps organizations further their missions. However, that’s not all.

It also helps organizations in four significant ways:

  1. One, the data is secure: no chance of accidental data deletion or loss
  2. Two, it structures and spots problems with data, like missing or incorrect value types.
  3. Three, it makes research more cost-effective by giving datasets a second life.
  4. Lastly, it promotes the organization’s work to a wider audience. People can easily view, download and benefit from the research.

If more organizations and society stand to benefit from opening up their data, why aren’t they doing it?

It’s clear from research that organizations do want to open up their results but simply don’t know how. One Wikirate study showed that half of surveyed labor rights organizations thought their research data was open when, in fact, it wasn’t. No license had been given to the data — preventing others from reusing the data.

Of course, the Wikirate team encourages any organizations that want to give their research superpowers to see how we’ve helped others and get in contact. We love hearing about your work and want to help advise how to make your data open safely in a way that suits you and brings the greatest benefits to people and the planet.

¹ Fashion Revolution (2022), Fashion Transparency Index 2022, Open data set of the Fashion Transparency Index underlying data, scores and sources on Wikirate
² Clean Clothes Campaign, Clean Clothes Campaign Factory Data, Open data on Wikirate
³ Combined Fashion Revolution and Clean Clothes Campaign data set on Wikirate




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