POMED’s Guide to Policy Writing, by Daniel Tavana and Nada Zohdy

March 2014

For a full text copy of the guide, click here. To view a copy of the guide in Arabic, click here.

Effective policy writing is an essential skill for individuals and organizations aiming to influence decision-makers and add value to policy debates. In general, policy writing refers to the process by which government employees and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) policy writing covercreate written documents (“policy products”) for lawmakers and policy professionals to read and act upon. The core element of policy writing is the problem-solution relationship: identifying a problem, making a thorough and convincing argument in favor of a specific solution, and persuading the target audience to make decisions in line with those arguments. A typical policy product written for a policymaker introduces a timely policy problem, presents potential solutions to it, evaluates those solutions, recommends one or more of them, and ends with a convincing argument as to why.

This guide is intended to assist in brainstorming, researching, and writing effective, persuasive policy products. The first half of the guide addresses the research process, namely: selecting a policy problem, identifying your audience, research design, assembling evidence, and evaluating alternative options. The second half focuses on the writing and production process: crafting policy arguments and recommendations, the structure of policy briefs, the editing process, and the dissemination of policy products.

About the Authors 

Daniel Tavana is POMED’s Research Associate. Before joining POMED, Daniel worked on security and governance issues for a variety of government agencies, such as the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury. This included work with the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs during the 2009 election. Daniel has master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he worked at the Belfer Center and co-founded the Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy. He speaks Farsi, and his articles on the Middle East have been published by Global Public Square at CNN, Al Monitor, the Atlantic Council, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Nada Zohdy is currently a Master in Public Policy candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Previously, she served as the founding Program Coordinator for Civil Society Partnerships at POMED, where she developed its capacity-building program with local policy organizations in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen. Prior to POMED, she attained professional Arabic fluency studying in Egypt and Morocco as a David L. Boren Scholar. She has previously worked for the Association for Women and Development in Egypt and the Middle East Institute in Washington. Nada graduated from Michigan State University with highest honors and and degrees in International Relations and Arabic. In 2009 she received the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, recognizing her commitment to public service.

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