A policy brief is a short, to the point, jargon free document written for non-specialists.
It presents research or project findings to policy actors, highlighting the relevance of the chosen research to policy and offering recommendations for change.
Policy briefs are written for a variety of policy actors. Exactly who a policy brief should be written for depends on the aim of the specific policy brief and the level of its application, for example, local, national, regional or private. Finding the right policy actor to target is crucial to ensuring that it will be read.
Policy briefs are a key form of communication favoured by policy actors and act like a business card for researchers, presenting important research findings and a researcher’s background in a short and appealing way.
Writing a policy brief evidences outreach and displays awareness to the impact of research, an increasingly necessary stage in securing grant funding. Most importantly, writing a policy brief can help change policy for the better!
Policy actors spend 30-60 minutes on average reading a policy brief Policy brief and so they must be readable in a short amount of time. Policy actors are busy and do not have time to read full length academic papers. Making research findings easily digestible increases the likelihood of research being read and acted upon. Condensing findings into policy briefs reduces the potential for important research to be lost because research is in a format that policy actors cannot or do not have time to access.
The key resources outlined below have been provided by R2A to help you produce effective and well written policy briefs that are tailored to the demands of policy actors. If you have any specific questions or personal challenges you can get more help through the R2A helpdesk.