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Policy briefs

How to produce and disseminate a policy brief.

What is a policy brief

Policy briefs can be a useful way to summarise your research and provide evidence and recommendations for policy audiences. They should provide policy recommendations or implications which can be used by policymakers as briefing documents to help inform their work.

A policy brief should be written with your identified policy audience in mind, acknowledging the policy context in which your research sits and with clear links between your findings and recommendations and current policy challenges. They should be evidence-based, but also written in plain English and as concisely as possible.

With your audience in mind, preparing a policy brief typically involves six important components:

  • Key messages: What are the most important aspects of your research for policymakers?
  • Audience: Who is it intended for? Have you identified them and how will you reach them?
  • Purpose: Does your research advocate for new policies or amendments to old ones? Does it highlight an issue which requires policy attention? Does it have clear policy recommendations or implications?
  • Collaboration: Would your policy brief benefit from being co-created with policymakers or practitioners in order that policy recommendations are more likely to resonate with intended audiences? (This won’t apply to everyone, but sometimes the co-creation or sharing of early or near-final drafts of policy briefs with intended audiences can enable final tweaks to the policy recommendations you make).
  • Timing: Is there an upcoming ‘moment’ when this topic will become salient and newsworthy?
  • Publicity: Beyond publishing a policy brief online, how will you publicise it? Ways of doing this could include events, blogs, or media engagement.

It is important to note that policy briefs are just one mechanism for policy engagement. Produced in isolation or sporadically and without relevant policy networks in place, they tend to be less effective at generating engagement with policy audiences. To increase your chances of being more effective, policy briefs should be developed alongside other policy engagement activities.

Sections within a policy brief

Typically, a policy brief will be between three to five pages. Elements of a policy brief usually include:

  • Title: A relevant title which is informative and interesting.
  • Executive summary: Short paragraphs which sum up the policy brief, its key messages and policy recommendations or implications.
  • Introduction / Overview: A clear opening which sets the scene for the research and puts it in the context of current policy debates or challenges.
  • Findings: You need evidence to support a policy brief, but this needs to be presented in an accessible way for non-specialists. Focus more on your results than your methodology (although this can be referenced).
  • Conclusions: A summary of what your findings mean in the context of current policy challenges and what they point towards.
  • Recommendations: Actionable, realistic policy recommendations or implications.
  • Extra details: Where appropriate, detail funding which has been used for the research and/or any other acknowledgements, citations or disclaimers.
  • Contact details.

Audiences for policy briefs

The most effective way to ensure your brief gets to the right people is to have an active network of relevant policymakers already engaged with you and your research. A secondary method is to create a targeted list of relevant policy contacts within Government and Parliament, as well as other policy actors working on related topics, who may find your policy brief relevant.

Social media can be a useful means to disseminate your findings, including with high profile organisations or influencers. Platforms like LinkedIn will enable you to search for people working on related topics, providing contact details for individuals and organisations who might be interested in your findings.

Hosting events, writing about your findings for The Conversation or for blogs such as the IPR’s, or aiming to generate media coverage about your findings are other ways of broadening the reach of your policy brief.


  • Policymakers are busy, so policy briefs should be concise and targeted to key audiences.
  • Consider partnering with an external organisation, or think tank, in co-authoring a policy brief.
  • If you intend to produce a policy brief, ensure you have appropriately costed this – see Costing policy engagement.
  • If your policy brief is an IPR research project, or collaborative project, contact Amy Thompson ( in the IPR to discuss the production of an IPR Policy Brief.
  • For other enquiries please contact the University’s creative team to discuss the production and professional design for your policy brief.

Further information

Learning from others

Read about Bath academics who have developed policy briefs as part of their research:

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