Writing the Policy Paper


The requirements of this assignment are to define a problem, collect information, integrate it, apply it to the problem, create a set of possible solutions to the problem, and make a recommendation to the decision maker based on all of the above.

Collect Information

The first thing you need to do is to select a general area of interest. Perhaps you work for a company which is interested in a presence on the Internet and they want you to develop an Internet Policy. You will first want to look at a variety of similar businesses and their experiences with the Internet. Or, perhaps you’re a teacher and you want to convince the School Board that your students should have access to the Internet. At this point, you are becoming familiar with what has already been done. Be sure to keep track of where your information comes from — you’ll want to go back to some of these sites later (and, of course, you’ll need this information for your bibliography).

Note that this information gathering is to become familiar with what has already done. You’ll need to do additional research as you proceed.


Now that you have a base of information, you need to start asking questions. Just what are your goals? The closer you come to identifying your problem, the better the final project will be. In the first example, what are the goals of your company? Increased sales? Customer support? Something else? For the teacher, the questions are different. What kinds of information are you looking for? Who will evaluate the worth/authenticity of this information? How will you monitor your students’ activities? What kinds of information do you wish to prevent them from seeing and how will you do that? What kinds of questions are likely to be raised by the School Board and how will you counter them? Be sure to consider the issues raised in the second part of the contract.


Who are all of the people/groups who are affected by the problem and/or will be affected by the various alternative solutions to the problem? What are the various values/goals of each of these groups? Spend some time thinking about this; otherwise, your analysis may leave out important players in your policy recommendation.

Design your Policy Options

Now it’s time to reread the information that you already have. You’ll probably begin to see some patterns in what you’ve found. Of course, you’ll also find that you need more information. But this time you have a better idea of what it is that you’re looking for. Also, it’s time to make sure that the quality of your sources is appropriate. While you may need to consult real company policies, you should also look for “scholarly sources” on which to base your analysis.

Now comes the hard part — you need to create some policy proposals. After all, you are not the decision maker — you are the analyst. So you need to present a range of possible options that the decision makers can consider. Just what are your options? What are the pros and cons of each? Keep in mind that while the decision maker may not have much knowledge about the specifics of your problem, he/she may not want a lot of description. Rather, what’s called for here is some description and a lot of analysis (compare and contrast, pros and cons, similarities and differences, and so forth), as in your issue paper.

Reach a Conclusion

While you are not the decision maker, you certainly should recommend one of your options for adoption. Again, you need more than an assertion that it’s the correct decision. You need to back your statement with evidence pulled from the options you came up with in the previous section.

Introduce your Paper

As in the issue paper, you will write your introduction last. Again, it should provide the reader with a roadmap to your paper and a restatement of your conclusion.

For more help

You may want to reread Writing the Issue Paper. Some of the same suggestions are useful here.