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POLS 1101 - Roberts-Lewis (Douglasville) - Spring 2018

Policy Brief Guidelines

Policy makers seldom have the time to read through all the literature related to a specific policy question. To make well-informed decisions, they rely on short, tightly written briefs that quickly and cogently relay the important policy facts, questions, and arguments about an issue.

In this class a policy brief is a commonly used advocacy and policy-making tool. Usually publicly available, a policy brief communicates information to policy-makers and advocates for a certain course of action. Persuasive, evidence-based, and structured writing of this type represents one of the most powerful ways of contributing to policy debates and influencing the policy-making process.

A convincing policy brief requires a specific structure and you are advised to follow this structure. You need to guide your target audience through the paper by ensuring all sections and arguments are well-structured, logically developed and focused on the topic. More specifically, your policy brief should have a(n):

  1. Identify the organization/issue and provide a short description/overview of the organization and/or the issues your policy brief will address (e.g. Abortion, Capital Punishment, Immigration, Planned Parenthood, the NRA, SCLC, etc...)
  1. Title: Include the title of the brief “Capital Punishment and its Importance in the 21st century”. Try to make your title memorable by choosing a proactive or surprising title. It is the best way to communicate your key message and the need for change.
  1. Introduction: the introduction, begin with a brief overview and state the problem or objective. Map where your argument will take the reader and explicitly outline your thesis.
  1. Description of the problem and proposition of the preferred policy. Outline brief history or background relevant to the theme. Describe the problem that required attention and action by policy makers. Then offer a few sentences to support your suggested response to the issues you raised. This section should summarize the key points of the policy brief.
  1. Analysis: Constructively criticize arguments, ideologies, and the quality of technical evidence. Use evidence from literature and other sources to support your perspectives and advance your recommendations.
  1. Presentation of selected policy options and discussion of their impact. The main part of your brief should contain an analysis on the issue. Highlight which policies are the most appropriate to solve the given problem and don’t forget that you have to paint both sides of the perspective and limit your own as this may bias the analysis. Defend your arguments using supporting evidence and use strong arguments from the analysis to support your position.
  1. Recommendations: Propose from your perspective up to three specific and feasible recommendations to address the problem/issue. The recommendation should be clear in detail what policymakers must do to adopt your recommendation and why it is in their best interest to do so.
  1. Concluding remarks. Conclude with a persuasive argument and summary statement. Finally try to ensure that your policy brief feels complete. After completing each individual component of the brief, summarize the key message at the end. Conclude the brief by demonstrating that your response is logical, relevant and complete.
  1. Reference list. At the end of the brief include a list of full reference materials which you utilized in the development of the brief in APA.
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