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Getting your research work known: How to write an effective policy brief

October 23, 2020
9:00 AM EDT - 12:30 PM EDT
Online via Zoom

About the workshop:

Policy briefs are becoming increasingly relied upon by policy makers to help them canvas a wide range of perspectives and evidence to inform their decisions. They are also an important tool to help researchers share their insights and evidence with a broader community and build a reputation as an expert. Ultimately, policy briefs are a critical step in making research results known so that the work will have impact in the wider world. Not all briefs are effective, however. Writing concise and persuasive briefs takes knowledge and practice. This workshop will review the audiences for policy briefs and their information needs, and will explore the best practices in writing and distributing the policy brief.   

In this workshop you will learn:

  • What is the role of policy briefs in the policy decision-making process?
  • Who is the audience of a policy brief and what do we need to know about them?
  • What are the key components of effective policy briefs?
  • What are the steps to writing a policy brief?

How this workshop will be delivered:

The workshop will be highly interactive, with the lecture interwoven with group discussion and time allocated for group and individual practice. Materials will be shared in advance and will form the basis for group discussions and individual work.

9 AM – 9:30 AM    The policy brief and its audiences

  • The role of the policy brief in policy decision making
  • Different types of recipients of policy briefs, their context and how we reach them; with a brief walk through on how to develop an audience matrix
  • The view from a policy maker 

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM    The elements of a policy brief

  • The elements of an effective policy brief
  • The challenges and pitfalls confronting academic writers


10:00 AM – 10:15 AM    Break


10:15 AM – 10:45 AM     Group exercise 1:

Participants will be provided with 5 samples of policy documents in advance and will participate in a brainstorm discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the briefs


10:45 AM – 11:15 AM     Step-by-step process for producing a policy brief

Organizing the structure, identifying the primary focus, key messages, and language and visual considerations  


11:15 – 12 NOON  Group exercise 2:

Participants will work together to develop an outline structure and elements of a policy brief for the specific research paper previously provided


12 NOON – 12:30 PM     Exercise debrief, outreach and wrap up discussion

How do we put our finished brief in the hands of policy makers?

About the workshop leader:

Laura Matthews is Marketing and Communications Manager, CERC Migration at Ryerson University. Laura has led communications teams in university and research environments for over twenty years and has worked extensively with researchers to develop communications materials appropriate for a range of audiences from government and donors, to stakeholders and the media. She has an MSc in Media & Communications from the London School of Economics.

Workshop fee:

Regular price $100 (discounted fee for students $20) 

Due to these uncertain times, we are offering these workshops free of charge.