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Executive Summary (1 page)
An executive summary condenses an entire paper into a single page that can be digested by policymakers quickly and without additional explanation. The policy problem and the value of potential alternatives need to be included here.
Introduction (1-2 pages)
This section provides a more detailed and formal introduction to the purpose of the analysis, the topic, and the methods that will be used to perform the analysis.
Problem Definition (2-3 pages)
This section should answer several questions. What problem is being addressed? Why is it a problem and from whose perspective is it a problem? What is the history of this problem? What has been done in the past to correct the problem? Are viable solutions available to correct the problem? Remember, problem definition can be very controversial and difficult. Be sure to address potential challenges to the selected definition.
Evaluation Criteria (1-2 pages)
This stage of the process helps analysts avoid rationalizing their favorite opinions. This section should explicitly state which criteria will be used to evaluate potential alternatives. Justification for each selected criteria will need to be discussed as well.
Identification and Evaluation of Alternatives (3-4 pages)
Describe, in detail, the search for alternatives and the justification for selecting some over others. At least three alternatives should be selected for evaluation in the analysis. Be critical and clear when explaining trade-offs among the alternatives. Qualitative and quantitative (if desired) analyses can be used in the evaluation process. The alternatives should be displayed graphically or in the most suitable format. Additional supportive information can be included in an appendix to the project.
Conclusions (1 page)
This section should summarize the above sections and provide any needed advice or warnings to policy makers. Qualifications to the analysis also can be reiterated here.
Information from lecture and the Patton et al. (2012) text should be used extensively to structure the above sections and the information they contain. Obviously, external sources will be needed as well. All information used for the project needs to be cited—using a standard style guide (e.g., APSA, APA)—parenthetically and in a reference section at the conclusion of the paper. Borrowing information that is specific to a previous analysis (e.g., decision rules, alternatives) will not be tolerated. This must be an original analysis. I will be available throughout the semester to provide guidance and answer any questions. Do not hesitate to use me as a resource or sounding board.