Policy Brief

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What is a policy brief?

Of many explanations I have encountered, the one which, I believe, nicely summs up the purpose of a policy brief states1:

The core purpose is to (1) succinctly (2) evaluate (3) policy options regarding a (3) specific issue, for a specific (4) policy-maker audience. Policy-makers need to make practical decisions under time-constraints, so the brief should provide evidence and (5) actionable recommendations.

What kinds of policy briefs are there?

Landsberg and Hebininck2 have offered three "types" of a policy brief, broadly speaking distinguished by the intentions/goal and agency of the writer. It is quite obvious that each of the three, while similarly structured, will have a different focus and purpose as well as different (in their breadth) target groups:

(1) Writing a policy brief as someone from the outside
(2) Writing a policy as a person who has been tasked to do so – a policy
(3) Writing a policy that critiques a policy

Are there any general rules regarding the structure?

There are countless.

Nevertheless, however structured they all must contain at least two blocks of information - situation brief and policy discussion.

One example of the structure of a policy brief broadly accepted in the CEA region has been developed by Lisa and Eoin