Policy Briefs are…
– “brief document that presents the findings and recommendations of a research project to a non-specialized audience” (IDRC, n.d.)
– “a concise summary of a particular issue, the policy options to deal with it, and some recommendations on the best option” (FAO, 2011)
“government policymakers and others who are interested in formulating or influencing policy” (FAO, 2011)
– Government policymakers: elected officials, senior policy advisors
“Of all the publications a research project produces, the policy brief is the one most likely to be read first in policymaking circles. If you succeed in capturing a decision-maker’s interest with this document, your findings have a good chance of entering the policy debate.”
European Commission (2010)
– Provide enough background for the reader to understand the problem.
– Convince the reader that the problem must be addressed urgently.
– Provide information about alternatives (in an objective brief).
– Provide evidence to support one alternative (in an advocacy brief).
– Stimulate the reader to make a decision.
– Title/title bar
– Executive Summary/Key Messages/Highlights
– The Issue/Policy Implications
– The Knowledge Base/Description
– Conclusion (sometimes)
Building an Effective Policy Brief
– Evidence based
– Easy to understand
What policy briefs are not …
– Research papers
– Focused on methods
– Written using technical language
Policy Brief Assignment (30% of Final Grade)
Select a topic related to energy and sustainability (e.g. affordability of clean energy; incumbent fossil fuel interests; carbon tax; shale oil extraction; fossil fuel divestment; LNG exploration; energy access in remote communities; microgrids; demand and supply; energy storage, ageing infrastructure, consumer adoption, NIMBY, etc.).
– Students may submit their chosen subjects to the course instructor or relevant teaching assistants for confirmations on topic legitimacy.
Topic should be specific to a given geographical context, energy source/technology, and be reflective of the current policy landscape.
Focus on contemporary energy policy issues. Students are encouraged to move beyond the Canadian context and look for international examples (i.e. Dutch National Energy Transformation; Micro-Grid Installation in Sub-Saharan Africa).
A policy brief is a succinct description of a particular issue or topic, policy options, and recommendations written in plain language.
Policy Briefs should aim 6-8 pages typed, single-space, with normal margins and 12-pt font.
Your brief must include resources and references, using the ‘APA style’ (American Psychological Association)
This might include academic references, government documents, statistics, newspaper articles and business magazines.
Your policy brief must include:
– A title
– An executive summary with overview of recommendations
– Introduction that outlines the problem or topic
– Background or context on the problem or topic
– Existing policy options (highlight any strengths or shortcomings)