What is a Policy Brief and Analysis?

Overview – What is a Policy Brief and Analysis?
Policy Briefs, or simply written policy advice, are the key means through which policy decisions are made.

You are to choose an issue within the context of Canadian Politics and analyse how Government has responded,

Examples of policy issues can include:

Climate Change Policy ****
Indigenous Rights
Electoral Reform
Decriminalization of Drugs
Economic Trade
Whether a policy recommendation is accepted as sound or dismissed in favour of another option largely depends on how well the issue and the arguments justifying the recommended course of action are presented.

POLICY ANALYSIS defines the problem and the goals, examines the arguments, and analyzes implementation of the policy.

Please review the submission instructions provided in the Course Specific Standard Statements section of the Outline. It is your responsibility to verify if the submission was successful. Be sure to keep a backup copy of all of your assignments in the event that they are lost in transition.

Evaluation Criteria
This assignment will be marked out of 60, and will be evaluated against the following scheme.

Soundness of your Analysis – 20 Marks
You must present analysis that is logical and well-constructed.
Your analysis will be evaluated using criteria such as, but not limited to, clarity, creativity and logical progression.
Quality of Evidence – 20 Marks
The quality of your analysis is largely determined by the nature of the evidence you are able to gather. You need to ensure you have a broad range of sources that are both timely and relevant to your policy issue.
Your evidence can be from a variety of sources. For example, academic literature, government reports, NGOs and media [Newspapers etc] coverage.
You will also be assessed on how efficiently and effectively you are able integrate your sources within your analysis.
You are required to use at least 12 sources.
6 of your sources must be Academic.
Presentation and Coherence of your Analysis – 20 Marks
How you present your analysis is critical for this type of assignment.
You will be evaluated using criteria such as, but not limited to, organization, clarity, professionalism, logical progression and coherence.
Structure and Layout
Your assignment should be no longer than 12 double-spaced pages [excluding title page and bibliography] in length.

Anything exceeding these requirements will be disregarded in the evaluation of your paper.
You are also required to use standard font and margins.

Suggested Page Distribution
Executive Summary – 1-2 Pages
Section I: Identify the Policy Problem – 4 Pages
Section II: What are the potential solutions? – 4 pages
Section III: What action do you recommend? – 2 Pages

Executive Summary
An executive summary is the initial interaction between the author of a report, and the audience the author is trying to target.

The target audience can include politicians, other researchers, nongovernmental organizations and members of society etc.

It is critical to have an effective executive because it’s the first thing people read. First impressions are critical!!!!

An effective executive summary should reflect the following:

be written in language appropriate for the target audience
consist of short concise paragraphs
begin with a summary
be written in the same order as the main report
only include material present in the main report
make recommendations and provide a justification
have a conclusion
be readable separately from the main report
Section I – Identify the Policy Problem
This section describes the symptoms, magnitude, and consequences of the policy problem you are analyzing, and identifies one or more plausible goals for government intervention (i.e. goals for a policy or program).

Your analysis should convince a thoughtful, analytic reader of the existence and importance of the policy problem, and inform the reader about alternative goals for public intervention.

You should not approach this as an advocate (watch out for exaggerated claims, etc.) and you should not begin by identifying the lack of a policy or program as the problem.

Your analysis in this section should address the following questions:

What is the policy issue?
What was the event or series of events that was a catalyst for action?
Is it a problem or crisis that demands immediate attention?
What interests are at stake for the Actor (e.g. the government) overall?
Section II – What are the Potential Solutions?
This section describes and evaluates the policy alternatives designed to help meet the policy goals. You are expected to identify alternatives and to identify and logically support criteria by which these alternatives can be compared.
The alternatives can draw on both existing policies and programs, or propose new ones.

This section should address the following questions:

What alternatives were considered to address the policy problem?
Why were the other alternatives rejected? Were they rejected for political or rational reasons?
Describe the trade-offs policy makers must accept based on your selection.

Section III – What Action do you recommend?
Now that you know the problem, the goals, the alternatives, and advantages of each, your job in this section is to think critically about the implementation realities.

You will want to consider the political interests and how they are organized, along with the ability to enact policy alternatives.
It is important to remember that new policies create new politics.

Based on your analysis, make a recommendation for action or, if there is no single “best” solution, compare the relative benefits of the top two alternatives.

Questions to be addressed in this section include:

Who are the primary stakeholders? What are their interests?
What is the extent of agreement on goals? What are the potential conflicts?
What is the possibility for implementing various alternatives?
What are the consequence of implementing alternate solutions

What is a Policy Brief and Analysis?
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