While this week’s focus on policy briefs has produced new material for all those grappling with the utility of these products, we shouldn’t forget the old age adage ‘don’t reinvent the wheel’. Thinking on policy briefs is continually evolving as new evidence on the efficacy of this method of engagement continues to emerge. However, the fundamental principles behind utilising policy briefs as tools, such as knowing your audience, being policy relevant and being concise, remain true.
In the spirit of using old knowledge to inform the new, we have gone through our archives to bring you five top policy brief posts of yesteryear. These resources may be from years past but they possess some useful information from the practicalities of preparing policy briefs to reflections on what policy briefs can actually achieve.
In no particular order, here are five top policy brief posts of yesteryear.
1. Policy briefs as a communication tool for development research [Posted on 30 July 2010]
This back- ground note presents recent research by the Research and Policy in Development (RAPID) Group at ODI and the Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net) on the research communication environment involving researchers, policy-makers and development practitioners from the North and South in science, technology and innovation.
2. What makes a policy brief stick? Lessons form a pioneer experiment [Posted on 2 August 2012]
What makes a policy brief effective? The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in collaboration with Norad conducted an experiment to test how ‘sticky’ a policy brief can be in influencing the mind of the reader and prompting them to act.
3. Evidence and Engagement: The balancing act of the Policy Brief [Posted on 15 August 2012]
A policy brief is written for a decision maker. It must convey a clear message which can be easily understood in the clamour of competing influences and demands. It must be designed for the specifications of the audience context- taking into consideration cultural, experiential and traditional factors as well as existing lobbyists and advocacy groups active in the field. Effective policy making demands an engagement with all the interwoven influences criss-crossing the field of development.
4. Preparing and using policy briefs to support evidence-informed policymaking [Posted on 6 July 2010]
Policy briefs are a relatively new approach to packaging research evidence for policymakers. The first step in a policy brief is to prioritise a policy issue. Once an issue is prioritised, the focus then turns to mobilising the full range of research evidence relevant to the various features of the issue. Drawing on available systematic reviews makes the process of mobilising evidence feasible in a way that would not otherwise be possible if individual relevant studies had to be identified and synthesised for every feature of the issue under consideration. In this article, a range of questions that can be used to guide those preparing and using policy briefs to support evidence-informed policymaking are developed.
5. How to write actionable policy recommendations [Posted on 16 July 2013]
When writing a policy brief, there are many things one has to consider: The language has to be just right, not too technical but professional. The length has to be brief yet informative and most of all it needs to speak to a pre-identified and targeted audience.