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Environmental Studies Library Guide

Research support for environmental studies, including science and policy aspects of environmental issues.

Writing Policy Briefs

What is a policy brief?

A policy brief is a concise account of the findings and recommendations of a research project. The purpose of a policy brief is to convince the target audience of the urgency of the current problem and the need to adopt the preferred alternative or course of action outlined. It is a call for action.

Standard format of a policy brief:

  • Executive summary - provide an overview of the issue/topic
  • Introduction - explain the significance of the issue
  • Approach and results - provide a summary of the facts, describe the issue and context, outline research, describe the current study
  • Conclusion - interpretation of data
  • Implications and recommendations - discuss what could happen, make recommendations about what should happen, use evidence to support recommendations


Writing White Papers

What is a white paper?

A white paper is a document used to inform readers on a particular topic/issue with the intention of using authoritative knowledge and research to argue for a specific solution.

Standard format of a white paper

  • Abstract - overview of main points
  • Problem Statement - explicitly states the issue the paper will address
  • Background - provides the reader with the background information needed to become familiar with the issue being presented
  • Solution - using the gathered evidence present a solution to the issue
  • Conclusion - summarizes major findings
  • References - list of sources used


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