will give you a solid foundation for building your policy briefing. It will help you frame your policy issue; it will also allow you to develop your research into your policy in greater depth than will be possible in the final policy briefing. 1) Define your policy issue clearly. 2) Provide relevant background information so that an outside reader can understand the issue as you see it. Place the problem in context; identify the key stakeholders driving the policy or needed to make change; and, 3) discuss appropriate policy theories or data to allow an outside reader to understand the scope and severity of the issue
Policy briefs may vary in length, depth and major areas of focus. However, there are common elements throughout the genre. These include:
· Title – this should include your name, affiliation (in this case, course designation) and title for your briefing. The title should catch the attention and clearly indicate the topic.
· Executive summary – A short summary of the purpose of the brief along with a statement of why the issue requires action, and your central recommendations. No more than 2 paragraphs.
· Context. Demonstrate that the problem is current and serious. Give enough information for a decision-maker to understand what’s going on and why action is needed. Clearly state the problem. Give the essential facts needed to get up to speed. Show the relevance and importance of the issue.
· Description and criticism of current or previous policies. Briefly summarize what is currently being done, or what’s been tried in the past. In order to take new action, we need to know what’s been tried before – what worked and what didn’t work. By showing what has been done (particularly what didn’t work), we can better see the need for action. This will also help focus on areas where change may be more successful.
· Recommendations – the central purpose of a policy briefing is to propose a range of alternatives that will improve the situation. You should identify potential alternatives. Your research should uncover a range of options for going forward. Describe these. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives that you identified. Follow with your assessment of alternatives. This may include a recommendation for a specific course of action. At a minimum, you need to provide a clear, evidence-based foundation for a decision-maker to justify their decision.
The Policy Briefing should provide decision-makers with enough information to understand a policy issue so that action can be taken to improve that issue. It should provide sufficient background and context to help the reader to understand an issue; locate key stakeholders; highlight the central problem; describe alternatives; and make recommendations for action. Briefings may take many approaches. One common approach is a detached neutral approach, in which the briefing provides a discussion of alternatives without arguing for a particular course of action. On the other hand, briefings may also advocate for a particular alternative, building evidence for, and attempting to convince decision-makers of, that course of action. Regardless, a successful policy briefing will highlight the significance of the current situation along with the need to take action.
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