Instructions for the Policy Brief
In writing this paper, students should design the policy analysis as though it will be used by a policymaker to decide upon her or his support for initiating a policy modification/change. Papers should cover substantive policy issues, consider how the policy would affect various populations, and detail the consequences (especially focusing on equity and justice) of policy modification/change.
Step 1. Students must get their topic approved by the professor. Changing your topic without instructor approval will result in a failing grade.
Step 2. Written Criteria for Policy-Briefs
A policy brief is a form of public policy analysis that prompts you to think your way through a policy issue with an eye toward the development of alternatives and potential solutions. A policy brief presents extensive research in a short, succinct discussion. In contrast to a typical academic research paper, a policy brief is a form of professional writing that is explicitly position oriented, prescriptive, and normative. A policy brief defines a problem from a particular perspective and tells the audience what should be done about it. Guidelines for writing the policy brief are attached.
Students will be expected to submit a policy brief on a topic(s) about the subject matter of the course. These briefs may be no more than 10 pages in length (not counting references, tables, graphs, diagrams, figures, pictures, etc.), and should state the policy problem to be analyzed, the state of knowledge, remaining gaps in understanding, and possible policy implications.
Use up-to-date data and sources including human sources you contact directly. A major criterion is timeliness and appropriateness of sources of information. But, DONT DEPEND ON THE INTERNET ALONE use regular library sources as well as journals, books, and even primary sources and field observation, if you can do so! DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA-USING WIKIPEDIA AS A SOURCE IS CONSIDERED A FATAL FLAW FOR YOUR PAPER.
If the issue is a very current hot topic you should also include references to public opinion and media sources which may be critical to addressing timelinessi.e., what do actual public or decision-makers know and think about the issue at hand right now!
The focus should be on being concise, precise and balanced as if youre writing as a policy advisor or analyst for your boss or for a decision-making body that needs facts and options to consider before making a decision, e.g., Congressional Committee, Board, professional association, or client of some type.
Try to avoid jargon as much as possibleremember your audience is usually NOT specialists, but educated busy decision-makers, or the general public. Again, you are not trying to impress them with how much you know, but help them understand enough to make an informed decision.
Remember that in policy writing the goal is NOT to be exhaustive or overly-idealistic or theoretical, but realistic, practical, concise, persuasive, balanced, and applied. The goal is to present doable options that might lead to action or a change in strategy on the issue or problem youre addressing.
Reference carefully and use a diversity of sources: academic journals, the Internet, TV/Radio, interviews with people, newspapers. References must be in an annotated bibliography format. A minimum of 8 references is required (since you will be including the internet, radio, newspaper, etc.).
Enhance readability via careful use of bullets, headings, icons, text-boxes, and other graphical aids to facilitate a quicker understanding of the key facts and issues.
When you use acronyms or abbreviations, spell them out or reference in footnotes (unless youre sure it is common knowledge).
Use judiciously charts, graphs, maps, pictures to illustrate your key points! Be careful to give credit and cite appropriately (copying graphics from the Web without giving the original URL is not appropriate). List Figures consecutively and provides a short, concise caption.
Follow a standard Style Manual such as APA, and give appropriate credit, e.g., citations, references. Most importantbe consistent and follow the same style.*
POLICY BRIEF TEMPLATE
No more than 10 pages
· Audience research who am I writing for and why
· Decide on key message and approach
· Do a SWOT analysis what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats surrounding the research issue.
· A one or two sentence overview of the brief that entices readers to go further.
· Answer the question why is the topic important, why should people care
· Answer the question of what were the goals of the research and overall findings
· Create curiosity about the rest of the brief
Approaches and Results
· Summarize facts, issues, and context
· Reduce detail to only what the reader needs to know
· Provide concrete facts or examples to support assertions
· Base conclusions on results
· Aim for concrete conclusions and strong assertions.
Implications and Recommendations
· State clearly what could or should happen next.