The Policy Research Paper is a five unit-long project that allows you the opportunity to examine an issue of current
relevance to local or national public policy making. Policy papers typically have one main agenda: address a current issue
or policy and propose/evaluate alternative policies that seek to improve the current state.
Policy papers tend to be very methodical, as a similar process is used each time to evaluate the different policies you are
advocating to your client. While literature papers focus primarily on textual analysis and building one’s argument, policy
papers focus much more on organization, thoroughness, and execution. Basically, if your client only has 15 minutes to
read your policy memo during his or her commute from the office to city hall, you want to make it easy for him or her to
navigate through your paper.
The Policy Research Paper should contain a comprehensive assessment of the problem, the proposed (or actual) policy,
and the potential (or actual) consequences of implementation of that policy. When you write your paper, you should think
of yourself as a staff person who must advise a policy maker facing a problem that must be resolved in the near future. As
this staff person, adopt one of the perspectives of public management as presented in this module, and frame your
responses around this approach.
The structure of public policy papers is different from typical papers and requires certain elements and sections in addition
to the traditional thesis, introduction, and conclusion.
When writing your public policy paper, make sure to include the following sections:
Executive Summary: This goes at the very front of your paper and is a summary or abstract of your analysis. It is
essential that you include your policy recommendation here.
Introduction: Explains to your audience why the issue/policy you have chosen to investigate is important and
relevant and what the current policy is. References to other research done on this issue can be included here as
Criteria: Let the reader know what criteria you are using to evaluate your policies. Economic feasibility, political
feasibility, and environmental impact are common criteria. Criteria should also be unique to your chosen
Alternatives: These are the policies you are analyzing and evaluating in your paper. Alternative policies seek to
improve on current policy and/or approach issues from different perspectives. These alternatives are evaluated on
the criteria you have listed out above.
Projected Outcomes and Tradeoffs: This section can be included in the evaluation of each alternative policy or set
apart on its own. Much of your individual analysis and opinion falls under this section, as you are called upon to
not only predict the effects and efficiency of your policies, but also assess the negatives and positives of your
Recommendation and Discussion: Here is where you finally decide among your alternatives and advocate your
policy. Remember not to simply repeat what you have covered under Alternatives and Projected Outcomes and
Tradeoffs, but explain why your client should follow your analysis and enact the policy you have chosen.
Your paper must:
be a minimum of 700 words;
follow APA style; and
include a cover page containing the tile of the assignment (Policy Research Paper), your name, and the university
name. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.