Creative research & paper writing

Guidelines on how to write a public policy paper

A public policy paper will examine an issue of public policy and recommend changes to a given policy. It is addressed to the policy decision maker. It may cover issues such as economics, legal issues and political or security issues. A public policy paper does not involve historical analysis because the focus is on current policy. Comparative or case studies are better suited to research papers as is the analysis of how certain policies work. The policy paper should be 30-35 pages long and begin with an outline executive summary.

Executive summary.

  • It should address the policy decision maker.
  • The current policy should be outlined.
  • The reason for proposed changes.
  • The options for policy change to be reviewed. Several options to be presented.
  • The pros and cons relating to each proposed policy change.

Reason for selecting recommended policy changes and why they are necessary. The main part of the paper should be devoted to a full discussion of the policy recommended changes backed up by facts and citations covering the pros and cons and the reasons supporting the change of policy it should also consider the option of maintaining the status quo and offer a full cost benefit analysis so that the outcome of policy changes is clearly thought through.

  • Review the proposed changes considering each option in turn.
  • Consider the implications of each policy change, pros and cons.
  • Each policy change should be compared with the current policy and other options.


  • The policy paper must contain a recommendation and reasons for rejecting other proposals and accepting the recommended changes.
  • The reasons for the policy recommendation should be covered in detail.
  • Full details for the implementation of the proposed policy change.
  • Timetable for changes.
  • Full cost- benefit analysis
  • A prediction as to the success of the recommended policy changes.

Appendices for a policy paper

  • Annexes if required.
  • Endnotes or footnotes
  • Tables, charts and maps
  • Full bibliography.

The student has to have a clear grasp of the process behind public policy decisions that are practical in nature including an assessment of practicalities and tradeoffs involved in public policy decision making because no system is perfect and there are costs and benefits involved. It is an insight in to how public policy is conducted.