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Policy Brief
Session & Resources
Michelle Laurie
Knowledge management specialist
South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub
12-14 Marc...
Notes
• This is a self-guided session.
• Follow the power point through activities and information.
• The host has additio...
What’s Inside the Folder?
Warning: this is meant to be fast.
1. Read instructions below before beginning.
1. Each person will take a folder. Do NOT ...
Questions:
Please answer on your own, notepaper provided, 5 minutes
• What did the policy brief discuss?
• Why is the issu...
Group Discussion Continued
• Which questions were easy or hard to answer, why?
– Take 5 minutes to discuss in your group.
...
Group Discussion Continued
• Why did we start with this activity?
– Take 2 minutes to share your ideas.
– When everyone ha...
Some Additional Answers:
• Target audience for policy briefs = people
short on time
– They need to understand issues very ...
Our agenda
1. What is a policy brief
1. Why a policy brief (context)
2. Planning for a policy brief
1. Find your style
Policy brief: key points
• Goal: to prompt change
• Includes: a clear message for policy audience
problem, context and re...
Introducing the policy brief…
• We are going to watch a 2 minute video.
• It’s loaded on your computer already!
• When the...
This is our reality.
Warning!
• The next 10 slides are an information dump.
• I suggest you take turns reading each slide aloud.
• Stop and cha...
Policy briefs: two types
1. Advocacy argues for a
particular course of action
2. Objective provides balanced
information f...
Implications
• Policy changes or actions the results
point to
• Supported by evidence
• Must be actionable
• Less direct t...
PB Characteristics
• Evidence
– Based on rational argument
• Non-academic
– Focus on meaning, not how research was done
• ...
In summary: what is a PB?
– A concise, stand alone document
– Conveys the ‘urgency’ of the issue
– Presents policy recomme...
The context: why?
ODI/ Sci-DevNet survey with policy makers in field of Science, Technology and
Innovation found:
– 50% of...
The context: why?
“I often read policy briefs for both my official and
non-official needs. I cannot think of going
forward...
Planning your PB
Think about your primary audience
– How much do they know about the issue?
– Do they support the issue?
–...
When do policy-makers use research in the policy cycle?
Key Message: engage early on and often
“Effective policy entrepreneurs – or champions – will make
the most of networks but...
Planning your PB
• Collaborating on research and content can help
make the evidence presented seem more
credible.
• Connec...
• Individually, re-open the policy brief you started with and re-read
it more thoroughly
– Use the note sheet provided and...
• Do a go-around and share your likes/dislikes (5 mins)
• Recorder: capture any ideas relevant for sharing!
• Finally, put...
Resources/References
• Policy briefs as a communications tool (ODI)
– http://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets...
Next 3 slides are from FAO (2011) Food
Security Communication Toolkit
Turning a big report into a policy brief
• Probably ...
Writing from scratch
There are two main ways to write a policy brief from scratch:
Start at the beginning
• Write the poli...
Using policy briefs
Once you have prepared your policy briefs, you can use them in many ways:
• As printed hardcopies, you...
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Introduction to policy briefs for researchers

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These slides supported a one hour session introducing policy briefs to urban development researchers as part of a learning meeting of the South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub in March 2015. A variety of helpful resources are included at the end. It's designed so participants could also do this at a station in a small group on their own.

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Introduction to policy briefs for researchers

  1. 1. Policy Brief Session & Resources Michelle Laurie Knowledge management specialist South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub 12-14 March 2015, Kathmandu
  2. 2. Notes • This is a self-guided session. • Follow the power point through activities and information. • The host has additional notes to help you. • The intended time is 55 minutes. • The purpose is to introduce you to policy briefs: what they are, what they include, and tips for writing them • Enjoy!
  3. 3. What’s Inside the Folder?
  4. 4. Warning: this is meant to be fast. 1. Read instructions below before beginning. 1. Each person will take a folder. Do NOT open! 1. Time keeper will set watch for 2 minutes. 1. Everyone will open folders and read through a different policy brief. 1. After 2 minutes, close folder and write down answers to the questions on the next slide (individually, on note paper provided). 1. Ready, set, …open (you have 2 mins only!!)
  5. 5. Questions: Please answer on your own, notepaper provided, 5 minutes • What did the policy brief discuss? • Why is the issue important? • What recommendations were made? • Give an example of one piece of evidence used to justify recommendations. (when 5 minutes is up, go to the next slide)
  6. 6. Group Discussion Continued • Which questions were easy or hard to answer, why? – Take 5 minutes to discuss in your group. – Host: ensure everyone participates! – Recorder: document key messages for sharing later. – Timekeeper: when finished (5 mins max), go to the next slide.
  7. 7. Group Discussion Continued • Why did we start with this activity? – Take 2 minutes to share your ideas. – When everyone has given at least one idea, go to the next slide.
  8. 8. Some Additional Answers: • Target audience for policy briefs = people short on time – They need to understand issues very quickly • The pace of the activity helps you see the importance of: – Having content that is easy to understand – Layout that helps to convey key messages quickly • Did anyone have trouble understanding the meaning of their policy brief? – Some were meant to be difficult examples 
  9. 9. Our agenda 1. What is a policy brief 1. Why a policy brief (context) 2. Planning for a policy brief 1. Find your style
  10. 10. Policy brief: key points • Goal: to prompt change • Includes: a clear message for policy audience problem, context and recommendations • Policymakers are busy people, and likely not specialists in your area. – The PB must: Look attractive Appear interesting Be short and easy to read
  11. 11. Introducing the policy brief… • We are going to watch a 2 minute video. • It’s loaded on your computer already! • When the video finishes, please return to the powerpoint presentation. • Here is the link, just in case it’s not working. – What is a policy brief? 2 min video message
  12. 12. This is our reality.
  13. 13. Warning! • The next 10 slides are an information dump. • I suggest you take turns reading each slide aloud. • Stop and chat if your group wants to. • Scroll slowly and take time to digest the information.
  14. 14. Policy briefs: two types 1. Advocacy argues for a particular course of action 2. Objective provides balanced information for policy maker to decide on course of action
  15. 15. Implications • Policy changes or actions the results point to • Supported by evidence • Must be actionable • Less direct than recommendations • Useful when advice not requested or not welcome Recommendations • Actions the researcher thinks should happen • Supported by evidence • Must be actionable • Describes clearly what should happen next • Stated as precise steps Implications vs Recommendations
  16. 16. PB Characteristics • Evidence – Based on rational argument • Non-academic – Focus on meaning, not how research was done • Focused – Particular problem or issue • Length – Short and sweet (4 pages max) • Easy to understand – Clear, simple language (no jargon) – Visuals help
  17. 17. In summary: what is a PB? – A concise, stand alone document – Conveys the ‘urgency’ of the issue – Presents policy recommendations or implications – Gives evidence to support the reasoning behind those recommendations – Points the reader to additional resources on the issue
  18. 18. The context: why? ODI/ Sci-DevNet survey with policy makers in field of Science, Technology and Innovation found: – 50% of policy-makers and 65% of researchers thought dissemination of research findings for policy uptake insufficient – 79% respondents ranked policy briefs as valuable communications tool Source: Jones, N and C Walsh (2008) ‘Policy briefs as a communication tool for development research’. ODI Background Note. London: ODI.
  19. 19. The context: why? “I often read policy briefs for both my official and non-official needs. I cannot think of going forward without consulting policy briefs. It expands my knowledge as I get an opportunity to understand what is happening around me.” (Policy-maker, India)
  20. 20. Planning your PB Think about your primary audience – How much do they know about the issue? – Do they support the issue? – How open might they be to your messages? – Where do they typically get their information? – What information do they need? – What do you want them to do (recommendations vs implications)? – How will you disseminate the PB? Who is the best messenger? (note: you will address these types of questions in your influencing strategy)
  21. 21. When do policy-makers use research in the policy cycle?
  22. 22. Key Message: engage early on and often “Effective policy entrepreneurs – or champions – will make the most of networks but will also use connections or negotiating skills, be persistent, develop ideas, proposals and expertise well in advance of policy windows”. – Neilson, S. (2001), IDRC
  23. 23. Planning your PB • Collaborating on research and content can help make the evidence presented seem more credible. • Connections can help to disseminate the brief once published.
  24. 24. • Individually, re-open the policy brief you started with and re-read it more thoroughly – Use the note sheet provided and on your own, answer the following questions: • What do you like about the content of this policy brief? • What content could have been improved? • What do you like about the design/ format of this policy brief? • What design/ format could have been improved? 10 minutes this time  Activity 2: Your Style
  25. 25. • Do a go-around and share your likes/dislikes (5 mins) • Recorder: capture any ideas relevant for sharing! • Finally, put all the PBs out, plus spares, and discover what style resonates with you, and others (5 mins) – Boxes – Call outs – Graphics and Images – Recommendations clearly visible – Colour, fonts, length – Writing style • Take personal notes so you can use the ideas later for your PB! Activity 2: Your Style
  26. 26. Resources/References • Policy briefs as a communications tool (ODI) – http://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/594.pdf • Policy briefs for development communications presentation (ODI) – http://www.slideshare.net/ODI_Webmaster/policy-briefs-as-a-tool-for-communicating-development- research?related=1 • How to write a policy brief tool kit (IDRC) – http://www.idrc.ca/EN/Resources/Tools_and_Training/Documents/how-to-write-a-policy-brief.pdf • How to plan, write and communicate a policy brief (Research to Action) – http://www.researchtoaction.org/live/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/PBWeekLauraFCfinal.pdf • How to produce a policy brief (Research to Action) – http://www.researchtoaction.org/live/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/How-to-produce-a-policy-brief.pdf • Advice for actionable recommendations: – http://www.researchtoaction.org/2013/07/how-to-write-actionable-policy-recommendations/ • Before writing the brief, consider these questions: – http://www.researchtoaction.org/2012/08/evidence-and-engagement-the-balancing-act-of-the-policy-brief/
  27. 27. Next 3 slides are from FAO (2011) Food Security Communication Toolkit Turning a big report into a policy brief • Probably the hardest job is to edit a 300-page report down to 700 words. If you try to edit the text, you will run into two problems: 1. It is hard to throw things away 2. What remains has no natural flow. • When you need to condense a big report into a small policy brief, try to: a) Think of the big picture b) Then, write from scratch. Finding the big picture Take a step back and look at the report from a distance, as if through a telescope. Ask yourself: • What problem did the project address? • What did the study try to find out? • What did it find out? Then, think of your audience: • Who is your policy audience • What aspects are of interest to policymakers? • What do you want them to do differently? That will help you select those aspects of the report to focus on. Perhaps your report already has a section on policy, so you can start there, and think of what other bits of information you need to include to put your recommendations in context.
  28. 28. Writing from scratch There are two main ways to write a policy brief from scratch: Start at the beginning • Write the policy brief in the logical order: • First, write the introduction. Then work out the body structure. Write the body. • Put the supporting material together: the cases, boxes, tables, graphics, photos and other information. • Write the recommendations. Then reorder the text so the recommendations come at the beginning. Start at the end • Write the text in reverse order, starting with the recommendations: Write the recommendations. Work out the body structure that will lead up to these recommendations. Write the body. • Put the supporting material together: the cases, boxes, tables, graphics, photos and other information. • Write the introduction. Reorder the text so the recommendations come at the beginning. • In practice, you may want to use a combination of these approaches in order to come up with your final text.
  29. 29. Using policy briefs Once you have prepared your policy briefs, you can use them in many ways: • As printed hardcopies, you can give them to policymakers in person, mail them to policymakers and other stakeholders and distribute them at conferences and workshops. • As softcopies, you may send them by email (but don’t spam!), put them on your website and distribute them via email groups or professional social networking sites. You can also combine them with other types of information materials, such as: • A presentation to use in meetings and conferences. • Information sheets with technical details. • A brochure about your project or organization. • A video. • A poster or exhibit for exhibitions or meetings. • Additional handouts and photographs. • A news release. Statements to use in media interviews. • Information on your website. • A report or book with further details.

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