What is a policy P…? why is it useful? how is it used? See this powerpoint (Links to an external site.) for a quick explanation on policy pa….
Resources for a successful policy pa….
(Links to an external site.)Sample policy pap…
Ali G. Scotten
February 11, 2011
What is a policy paper?
How are they used?
How do you write an effective policy paper?
A policy paper is a research piece focusing on a specific policy issue that provides clear recommendations for policy makers.
What it is not: ◦ Historical analysis
◦ Opinion piece
To convince a policy maker’s staff to advocate changing course on a specific policy issue. ◦ Shape perceptions around issue
Bring the issue to policymakers’ attention
Frame the issue for them—their perception of the problem and the solutions
◦ Provide text for their memos
Busy staffers prefer not to have to rework complex writing
You want them to lift your words directly as much as possible
When and how staffers write memos ◦ Boss assigns staffer to conduct research
◦ Staffer has personal interest and wants to bring it to boss’s attention
Two kinds of staff: ◦ Committee staff More educated and specialized
Harder to initiate contact from the outside
◦ Personal office Identify Legislative Aide by calling or visiting office
Send policy memo (3-4 pages)
Try to find contact information for committee staff
Think tanks ◦ Think tanks send pieces to staffers on a regular
◦ Academics can build relationships with think tanks to collaborate on policy papers
Congressional Research Service Captiol Hill’s think tank
Staffed by former academics
Will accept longer policy papers
Ask for researcher responsible for your topic
Policy Staffer ◦ No time for extensive research ◦ Conduct mostly online research ◦ Use more in-depth research conducted by intelligence
departments in each agency
Intelligence Departments (CIA, DIA, INR) ◦ Track internet publications—make sure your article
titles contain the problem and solution to increase the chance of retrieval through Google search
◦ More time for extensive research ◦ Attend academic conferences—provide ―fact sheets‖
and executive summaries to audience
Clear and concise statements ◦ No extra points for lengthy prose or sophisticated vocabulary
BLUF ◦ Bottom Line Up Front (begin paragraphs with conclusions) ◦ Key difference between academic and policy writing
Only essential information ◦ Don’t get bogged down in too many details ◦ Distill to essential elements
Cover all the bases ◦ Make it as thorough sounding as possible so they feel they don’t
have to go to other sources
Give specific policy recommendations
Show how it will impact them ◦ How will it impact their constituents?
◦ How can you tie it to national security?
Don’t argue for an ideology ◦ Argue for a specific course of action
Fact-based argumentation ◦ Don’t come across as an ideologue
Acknowledge potential downsides and ways to mitigate risks ◦ Lends credibility to your research
You want the staffer to walk away with answers to two questions:
◦ Why is the current situation untenable?
◦ How can it be fixed?
Executive Summary/Purpose Statement ◦ Most staffers will only read this part
Body ◦ Background
What is the current policy? Why is it being conducted this way?
◦ Analysis Why is the policy not working? Why is it necessary to find an alternative?
◦ Policy options Discuss a few alternatives and their implications
◦ Recommendation Provide your recommendation and how it can be implemented
Conclusion ◦ Summarize analysis and recommendation
Appendix ◦ Relevant figures, maps, graphics
Transforming academic writing into a policy paper ◦ Read the academic blog post
◦ Write the analysis section of your policy paper (arguing the author’s points)
Why is the policy not working?
Why is it necessary to find an alternative?
No more than 6 sentences
◦ Trade and discuss with a partner
Analysis US officials’ simplistic view of ―secular‖ politics as good and ―Islamic‖ politics as bad has contributed to Egypt’s current crisis, and is likely to increase anti-American sentiment and undermine American interests in the Middle East.
Maintaining the current perspective could stifle political reform in Egypt and undermine its security. Taking advantage of US officials’ fear of Islamist politics, Mubarak has repressed the population for decades. The current unrest is the result of a lack of outlets for political dissent.
Rejecting Islamic politics could undermine US interests in the region by fueling anti-Americanism. Continued support of Mubarak and refusing to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate representative of a subsection of Egyptians will reinforce the popular belief that the US is a hegemonic, anti- Islamic power.
Serve as the bridge between academia and policymakers
Be concise without being superficial
―Writing a memo is like figuring out how to covey the full experience of a Thanksgiving meal in a single bite‖ –Senate staffer
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