How to Write a Policy Analysis

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Political analysts use policy analyses to identify and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of specific government policies and to suggest and analyze alternative options. If you study government or politics, you will probably have to write a policy analysis paper. Although policy analyses may appear intimidating, using a step-by-step approach can help break down the task into manageable pieces.

1 Introduce your topic

Introduce your topic. This includes identifying the problem and defining any key terms.

2 Establish the criteria

Establish the criteria with which you will evaluate the existing policy and policy alternatives. For example, cost, legality, efficiency and political acceptability represent possible evaluative criteria.

3 Summarize the existing literature

Summarize the existing literature that addresses your policy issue, including online and print publications.

4 Analyze the existing policy existing according to the evaluative criteria

Analyze the existing policy according to the evaluative criteria you have established. This analysis should also include the effects the policy has on different groups and any conflicts it creates among important values.

5 Identify alternatives

Identify alternatives to your policy and evaluate each one individually, according to your established criteria. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Keep in mind that you can combine alternative options into new ideas.

6 Conclude

Conclude by recommending any changes in or alternatives to the existing policy, and briefly reiterate your rationale. Outline a plan for adopting an alternative, if applicable, and discuss the possible consequences of adopting your recommended changes.

Rebekah Richards is a professional writer with work published in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "Brandeis University Law Journal" and online at She graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University with bachelor's degrees in creative writing, English/American literature and international studies. Richards earned a master's degree at Carnegie Mellon University.