Publish your policy brief with us

6th September 2021

Why publish a policy brief?

A policy brief aims to directly influence government policy by reviewing current research in important areas. They are a trusted, impartial source of information, act as evidence for policy developments and often advocate a particular course of action. Policy briefs can help research create real world impact by sharing:

  • Research shaping society
  • Research developments such as new technologies or policies
  • Significant findings which have far-reaching social and economic implications
  • New industry practices.

If you believe your area of research is particularly vital to informing good policy, you should think about writing a policy brief based on your work and related research.

Make it accessible

Policy makers are not academics. They need a digestible policy brief they can easily distill into memorable facts that can be used to argue for a policy position. When writing your policy brief you should:

  • Keep it concise, clear and relevant
  • Focus on results and recommendations, not methodology
  • Use accessible language throughout – avoid jargon and long sentences
  • Clearly define the problem you are trying to address
  • Identify and assess the available evidence from a range of different sources
  • State the actions you believe should be taken
  • Ensure multiple perspectives are considered – think about how your recommendations will impact different sectors.

Follow a standard structure

Policy briefs need to be simple and direct. The brief should be no more than 1,500 words including figures and tables. It should only contain information essential to set out your perspective and recommended action. Every word counts. We recommend you structure your policy brief like this…

Headline – choose something that will make an impact! Your headline should quickly communicate the content and should be easy to remember when citing it to argue a position.

Executive summary (100-250 words) – help your readers get acquainted with a large body of work without having to read it all. Keep it short and use bullet points to:

  • state the purpose of the brief
  • highlight the major points you will make
  • describe any results, conclusions, or recommendations.

Introduction (100-150 words) – think of this like a short journal abstract. In 4–5 sentences, state the problem your recommendation aims to solve and why it matters, and outline the overall structure and argument of the brief.

Findings (500–1,000 words) – outline your recommended policy position, associated evidence, and the considerations you have taken into account. Don’t forget to keep it accessible.

For example, demonstrate an understanding of the current position and why your recommendation is preferable. Detail the impact this position will have on all affected stakeholders and the evidence you have for this.

  • Use headers to signpost different sections
  • Show you understand the current policy position and its limitations
  • Cite the latest research to evidence your policy recommendation
  • Emphasise the application of research outcomes – if it is essential to assess methodology, keep it very brief
  • Include handy facts or impactful statistics for policy makers to cite when championing the recommendation
  • Use figures, charts or diagrams where suitable, to catch the eye of policy makers
  • Use input from stakeholders in academia, business, government, the third sector and others to show a variety of perspectives have been considered.

Implications (100-200 words) – describe the possible courses of action suggested by your research, taking into account current or proposed policy options.

Recommendations (<300-500 words) – show how your policy and associated evidence contributes to a solution of the problem outlined in the introduction. Make it memorable.

  • How might your recommendation be put into action? Which regions or industries will be affected? What are the cost implications?
  • Provide your contact details – be prepared to supply extra information within sources or in conversation
  • Give the date your brief was written.

References/further reading (contributes to total word count) – list your sources. Use open sources as much as possible so policy makers can further explore the evidence.

Ready to get writing?

We hope we’ve shown you the value of writing a policy brief and given you the guidance you need to get started. Drop your Emerald Publisher a line to find out the next steps. For more information on publishing policy briefs with Emerald, please visit our document guidelines page on Emerald Open Research.