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PSCI 3120: Women and Politics

Library research guide for PSCI 3120

Suggestions for Writing Policy Analysis

The first model is based on one offered by Charles R. McClure....

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
    • Importance of specific topic
    • Definition of key terms
    • Key stakeholders
    • Key policy areas needing analysis and resolution
  • Overview of current knowledge
    • Evaluative review of the literature about the topic, including print and electronic sources
  • Existing policy related to the topic
    • The most important legislative, judicial, and regulatory policy instruments
    • Ambiguities, conflicts, problems, and contradictions related to the instruments
  • Key issues
    • Underlying assumptions
    • Effects on and roles of key stakeholders
    • Conflicts among key values
    • Implications of issues
  • Conclusions and recommendations
    • Recommendations
    • Rationale for recommendations
    • Implications and possible outcomes of specific courses of action
  • References
    • APA style
    • All sources cited in the paper.



The second model is based primarily on the work of William Dunn, with contributions from the work of Ray Rist on qualitative policy research methods, Emery Roe on narrative policy analysis, and Donald Schön on generative metaphor. 

Elements of the policy issue paper (adapted from Dunn, 1994, with material from Rist, 1994; Roe, 1994; and Sch�n, 1993)

Element Examples of Evaluative Criteria

Executive summary

  • Background of the issue or dilemma
  • Description of the social dilemma
  • Outcomes of earlier efforts to address the dilemma
  • Are recommendations highlighted?
  • Are all the important terms clearly defined?
  • Are all appropriate dimensions described?
  • Are prior efforts clearly assessed?

Scope and severity of the problem

  • Assessment of past policy efforts
  • Significance of the conflict
  • Need for analysis
  • Why is the social conflict important?
  • What are the major assumptions and questions to be considered?

Issue statement 

  • Definition of the issue
  • Major stakeholders
  • Goals and objectives
  • Measures of effectiveness
  • Potential solutions or new understandings
  • Is the issue clearly stated?
  • Are all major stakeholders identified and prioritized?
  • Is the approach to analysis clearly specified?
  • Are goals and objectives clearly specified?
  • Are major value conflicts identified and described?

Policy alternatives

  • Description of alternatives
  • Comparison of future outcomes
  • Externalities
  • Constraints and political feasibility
  • Are alternatives compared in terms of costs and effectiveness?
  • Are alternatives systematically compared in terms of political feasibility?

Policy recommendations

  • Criteria for recommending alternatives
  • Descriptions of preferred alternative(s)
  • Outline of implementation strategy
  • Limitations and possible unanticipated outcomes
  • Are all relevant criteria clearly specified?
  • Is a strategy for implementation clearly specified?
  • Are there adequate provisions for monitoring and evaluating policies, particularly unintended consequences?

From University of Texas, College of Information  


Example policy briefs from Peterson Institute for International Economics: 

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