Writing Policy Papers

Writing Policy Papers-54
Models should, wherever possible, allow policymakers to vary assumptions.

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The accurate synthesis of existing information is the most important single offering by academics to the policy process.

Since policymakers are making economic decisions, economic analysis is central, as are the qualitative social sciences.

This is the responsibility and skill-set of academia, although policy-makers can help prioritize key questions.

The second is a demand-side problem, with policymakers unwilling or unable to take account of good existing evidence.

Papers which are as simple as possible (but no simpler) are most likely to be taken up in policy.

Most policy questions have many scientific questions, from different disciplines, within them.

The second follows from the fact that their main lever is moving constrained resources around and choosing between different ratios of financial allocation; they tend to think like economists or be advised by them, and economics is the training for many policymakers, whether civil servants or politicians.

This does not mean good economic analysis is essential to influence policy (although it certainly helps), but good policymakers will always be asking the question ‘what is the opportunity cost of this new initiative? Policymakers also therefore can be more numerate than scientists often give them credit for, and have access to well trained statisticians.

What makes a good scientific policy paper, defined as a paper likely to influence and improve policy decisions based on science?

The starting point for any piece of communication, and a scientific paper is a form of communication, is: who is the audience?


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