Now that you have been assigned an issue, it is time to focus on the research for the project. Policy briefs, or memos as they are sometimes called, differ from typical academic research papers in some respects. Their main purpose is to provide analysis and recommendations to a limited audience of policymakers and their staffs so that they can make an informed decision. These people do not have lots of time to do their own research and read long documents. Therefore, the brief must give the policymaker access to a lot of information in a clear, concise and well-organized fashion.
Part I. Describe and Define the Issue/Problem. In defining an issue, you take a position on the scope and seriousness of the problem and identify one or more causes. How do we know that the problem really exists? How does the problem manifest itself? What is the severity of the problem and who is affected most? Who and how many people are affected (supply metrics if available)? What are the various costs of the problem to individuals, communities and the nation? What are the cause or causes of the problem? What is the evidence to link the cause to the problem? If multiple causes exist, identify root and proximate causes. Focus your more in depth analysis on only one or two of the causes. Use numbers and comparisons to help readers understand the problem. (Should not exceed 4 pages).
Part II. Describe and Discuss the Merits of the Policy Alternatives. What alternative approaches exist for reducing or eliminating the problem or mitigating its effects? Discuss at least two. (The alternatives may exist only on paper or they may have already been adopted by some jurisdictions. They may be your own alternative or those that you have borrowed from others.) What steps can the federal/state/local government take to address the problem? Assess the different approaches in terms of their promise for reducing the problem and their costs and benefits to society. Which do you think would be most effective and what would be the cost? (some of the benefits and costs may be difficult to quantify and monetize, but should still be noted). (Should not exceed 4 pages).
Part III. Assess Political Feasibility and Make a Recommendation. Choose one or two alternatives and discuss its/their political feasibility. Would there be enough political support to gain approval of your preferred alternative? What might be done to gain the support of or circumvent potential opponents? (For this part of the project you may consider political feasibility at the national, state or local levels.) (Should not exceed 3 pages)
Page limits do not include list of references at the end of document and any charts, tables or appendixes. PAGE LIMIT SHOULD BE 8-10 PAGES ONLY.
Format and Sources. Your drafts should be type-written, double-spaced with one-inch margins and 12-point font. Think about how to organize the brief to highlight the important points; I recommend using headings, and you might also use bullet points and lists if appropriate.
Use journalists accounts, reports from governmental sources or advocacy groups, and academic books and journals to research your issue. Google and Google Scholar are good places to start, but also the websites of LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations, which often have information about issues affecting the LGBTQ+ communities. Cite all sources using the APA citation style. Be sure to cite properly any information obtained online.