Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions:

Q: If I decide to volunteer with IMPOWR, what sort of time commitment will I be expected to give?

A: The time commitment for every volunteer varies depending on each person’s schedule, as well as the number and scope of the subtopics being researched. During the course of their time with us, some Contributors cover one or two subtopics, while others finish entire countries. The amount of time you dedicate is really is up to you. We do ask that you be upfront with us about how much time you can commit to the project so that we can partner with you to develop a manageable research project.

Q: How much time will a research assignment take me?

A: This depends on a number of factors, but on average most Contributors generally finish one full topic per month. Factors that can influence how long a full topic might take include country, number of subtopics, Contributors’ personal experience researching or living in the country, and Contributors’ schedules. Because of these factors, IMPOWR staff discusses each assignment with the Contributor to determine how long it should take.

Q: As a Contributor, am I basically posting information sources and articles that I find, or am I expected to provide some analysis as well?

A: While locating and posting links to resources is important, it can be very helpful for Contributors to provide background information and explain why and how these resources are relevant to the topic.

Q: Do Contributors receive credit for the content that they contribute to the website?

A: Absolutely! Contributors who post content to IMPOWR are recognized for their contributions on our IMPOWR Contributors page of the website. Students needing credit for independent study can contact us to fulfill credit requirements.

Content and Technical Questions:

Q: What types of resources are IMPOWR Contributors expected to use?

A: We ask that IMPOWR Contributors focus on using reliable primary and secondary resources, with an emphasis on primary legal resources. For more background on types of resources to use and suggestions of where to research, please see the IMPOWR Research Guide.

Q: What if my content disappears?

A: The IMPOWR website is constantly updated, and sometimes content gets shifted or replaced. If you have noticed that some of your content has disappeared, please email an IMPOWR staff member, and we will have it restored as soon as possible. Additionally, this is a wiki-like Research Database and your content could have been updated by another Contributor.

Q: I copied and pasted my content from Word and the formatting is all wrong. How do I fix this?

A: Microsoft Word and a number of other programs insert formatting code into content written in their programs. When you simply copy and paste this content into the Text Editor this background formatting code distorts your post. In order to avoid this, please use the “Paste from Word” button found at the top of the Text Editor. For more information, please see the IMPOWR Database Training Manual.

Q: I used the “Paste from Word” tool but my content is still having formatting problems, what should I do?

A: Try the Paste from Text button. Sometimes this one will work better, especially if you are pasting your text from an online source, such as a Google document. Play around with your text until it appears correctly to you.

Q: I cited some documents that I found on the United Nations Official Document System (ODS) but every time I attempt to link to the documents the link fails. How do I fix this?

A: The UN Official Document System is a great resource, but linking to it is slightly more difficult than it is with most websites. If you find a document on the UN’s ODS, please follow these simple steps to generate a proper link to it:

  1. Once you have found the document you want to use, locate that document’s symbol number (all documents are issued one). If it is not obvious to you, use ODS’s main search function to locate your document and the symbol number will be listed on the document’s main page. 
  2. Next, type followed by the symbol number into your web browser’s web address area. Ex: “
  3. You can now use this link on IMPOWR’s website to access the ODS document you found.

Q: Under what subtopic or law reform variable do I address gay and lesbian rights/ issues?

A: While we do not have a special section dedicated to gay and lesbian rights and issues, we do encourage you to address them under all relevant topics and subtopics. One example of this would be including laws permitting (or prohibiting) marriage for lesbian and gay couples under the subtopic of Marriage or Child Marriage.

Q: I have information/ content that overlaps in two or more subtopics areas and/or law reform variables. Is it necessary to post the same information in multiple sections or can I just put it in one?

A: The best way to answer this question is with another question. Is someone who is researching this topic likely to look for the information in different section? If the answer is yes, it is probably best to include it under both topics/ subtopics/ law reform variables. If you are concerned that the information is too repetitive, we suggest that you include a shortened version, and then a sentence along the lines of “For more information on this topic, please see _________.”

Q: I have noticed that for the topic on "Activities of the State: CEDAW Status"  much of the information that is included under the subtopics of Current Legal Framework: Signatory or Ratified and Temporary Special Measures is information that should be included in the Summary as well. Do I duplicate?

A: In this case we do ask that your make sure to include the treaty information under the necessary subtopics, which may mean the information used overlaps quite a bit. If you would like to make reference to the same information and expand on it in the summary or another section within the topic on "Activities of the State: CEDAW Status," please feel free to do so.

Q: I have noticed that when I click on some web addresses posted within the content it does not automatically take me to the website. Why is this?

A: Currently our Data Input Tool does not automatically hyperlink web addresses. While we are in the process of updating this aspect of the program, we ask that all Contributors remember to go through the steps of hyperlinking all web addresses. If you notice a web address is not hyperlinked and you have an IMPOWR username, please feel free to update it.

Q: I have noticed that when I paste my footnotes from Word or another word processing program they format incorrectly. What can I do to fix this?

A: The some of the code that Word and other word processing application have can often cause formatting problems when using the Text Editor. In order to avoid this issue we ask that you manually enter in each of your footnotes. You can do this by place your cursor where you would like the footnote included, and press the footnote button (shows up as a1 in the editor bar). A box will appear and simply enter in your footnote, then click insert.


If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If we know that you have a particular issue, we can post the question and answer on this page so that other Contributors have the information as well.