HSRC policy brief series 2015/16

What is a policy brief?
•    A short document for providing policy advice to a non-specialist audience on a single topic
•    A concise summary of a particular issue, the policy options to deal with it, and some recommendations on a particular course of action (advocacy)
•    A medium for exploring an issue and distilling lessons learned from the research (information sharing/objective)

Parameters
No more than 2–8 pages (700 – 3 000 words). A good average is 1 500 words.

Before you start
Ask yourself:
•    Who am I writing this brief for? What are the questions they want answered?
•    What are their interests, concerns?
•    How knowledgeable are they about the topic?
•    How open are they to the message?

Focus your content as follows:
•    Provide the necessary 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/enable the reader to make a decision.

Tips for writing policy briefs
•    Be short and to the point. It should focus on a particular problem or issue. Do not go into all the details. Instead, provide enough information for the reader to understand the issue and come to a decision.
•    Be based on firm evidence.
•    Focus on meanings, not methods. Readers are interested in what you found and what you recommend. They do not need to know the details of your methodology.
•    Relate to the big picture. The policy brief may build on context-specific findings, but it should draw conclusions that are more generally applicable.

Structuring your policy brief 
Here is the recommended structure for HSRC policy briefs; note that it differs radically from the structure of a journal article

To download the structure of the brief click on link below: