4. Write a policy brief


Almost every dissemination plan I see mentions a policy brief – a short, non-technical version of the paper intended for policymakers and their teams. There are many different models, as I’ve outlined before. I find many to be too long or too text-heavy: I believe that someone who is willing to scan 6 pages of text may be almost as likely to scan your paper. But that’s just my personal preference; I haven’t seen a lot of evidence on this.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with the form. Colleagues and I started a series called the Radically Brief Policy Briefs, which were just one three-quarter size sheet, front and back, with a couple of analytical images, as you can see below.

Radically brief policy brief

Here’s another example: A few years ago, co-authors and colleagues and I prepared a policy brief on cash transfers in Tanzania where every point was supported by a figure, which we called Research in Charts. I handed some out at a workshop in Rwanda, and the next day, on a flight from Rwanda to Tanzania, I noticed government officials reading it. Success! (Well, minor, intermediate success! Still!)

Research in charts


See here for all our advice on how to write and here for how to speak to policy makers

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