How To Write A Research Briefing University Of

How to write a research briefing university of

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How to..

Write a research briefing
This guide will help you to structure a research briefing. It provides a
set of questions and prompts to consider before you start writing, a
suggested structure and practical tips

1. What is the purpose of a research briefing?
Research Briefings provide a concise summary of your research and its relevance to policy and/
or practice, in plain English. You can use them to present information impartially and map out
options; or, alternatively, you can advocate a particular option based on your findings. Which is
most appropriate will depend on your project and stakeholders

Printed copies are useful as a ‘calling card’ at meetings and to share at events, in delegate packs
or on a stand. If you have a website, blog or social media presence, think about how you can use
them to engage your audiences. They may also provide a hook for media coverage or be useful as
the basis for an opinion piece in a relevant publication. If you have a Communications Officer, they
will be able to provide advice, as will the Press Office

2. Who is your target audience?
You are writing for non-academics: policymakers,
analysts, practitioners and others who formulate,
influence or implement policy. Your reader is not a
specialist in your area, and is likely to be very busy. 3. When should I write a research briefing?
S/he is interested in the substantive issue and Policymakers and practitioners are interested
how it relates to the current context, rather than in policy relevant research as it progresses. You
the methodology. You will need to situate your can write a briefing at any stage in a project; in
research within the current policy and practice fact you may want to plan a number of briefings
context and make clear links for them. throughout a project

Ask yourself how you can generate conversation
around your Research Briefing(s). Speaking with
research users during a project allows you to hear
what would be most useful to them and usefully
inform the direction of the research

Knowledge Exchange 'How to' guides for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
4. How should I structure my research briefing?
A Research Briefing is generally between 2 and 8 sides of A4. There are many ways to structure the content;
have a look around and see what peers or competitors are doing. Here is one suggested structure (see boxes
on page 3 for more detail):
Key points, findings or recommendations for policy or practice
The body (the main text)
In addition, you should include some of the following: boxes and sidebars, cases, tables, graphics,
photographs, quotations from a source credible to your audience

5. How to use boxes, tables, graphics and images effectively
Boxes are useful for definitions, explanations, lists, and examples to illustrate points in the text. They
should have a clear title and be understandable on their own. Consider using 1 or 2 boxes of 100-150
words. Remember to reference them in the text

Tables need to be simple. Would a graph be better? Make the title talk, e.g., ‘irrigation boosts yields’
rather than ‘comparison of yields on irrigated and non-irrigated land’. Give the source of information

If using diagrams/graphs/maps, choose the type of graphic that best suits the information you are
presenting e.g., a bar/pie to compare figures and a line graphs for time series. Give it an explanatory
title. Don’t clutter your graphic. What is most important to show? Remember that most people
printing in an office will print in black and white

Images make your Research Briefing more eye-catching and therefore more likely to be read. Use
them, and the captions, to illustrate your findings, recommendations or conclusions

Look around for examples you like and borrow the elements that work for your briefing:
Research findings from I’DGO
Research briefing from
Evidence Note from
Knowledge Exchange 'How to' guides for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Keep it short

Make it catchy but ensure you use relevant key words. Try using an unusual turn of phrase or a question

Keep it to the point - make sure it is relevant to the topic

What are the main points you want your audience to get, even if they read nothing else?
Put these in larger font or in a box, on the front page

Key points, findings or recommendations for policy or practice
In academic writing, you work up to reveal your conclusions at the end. A Research Briefing is
the opposite! You need to keep conclusions short (5 or 6 is enough) and make them easy to find

Put them on the front page, as part of the summary or immediately after it, or in a separate box or

The aim here is to grab the reader’s attention, introduce the topic and say why it is important

Aim for 100 words

You could introduce the topic, say why it is important, give basic background and context, outline
why your research is relevant to the topic

Or you could introduce a problem; say why it is important; summarise what happens, to whom
and where; outline the effects of the current situation

The body (main text)
Trying to edit a long academic paper into a short policy focused one is impossible. Take a step back, think of
the big picture and write from scratch

Ask yourself (again): What problem does the research address? What were you trying to find? What did you
find? How is it relevant to current debate? What will be of interest to your audience? What do you want them
to do as a result of reading your Research Briefing?
Guide the reader. Use sub-headings, short paragraphs, boxes, graphs or images, or quotations from
policymakers or practitioners

Ask yourself ‘so what?’ after every paragraph that you write

Use clear, simple, easy to understand language (e.g., the level of a broadsheet newspaper). Avoid academic,
technical and methodological terms or the jargon of your discipline. Keep headings short and clear, and keep
sentences and paragraphs short

This guide was produced by the CAHSS Knowledge Exchange Office. We help colleagues to engage with industry, policy
and practice to maximise the impact of their research. Find out more at
Written by Laura Cockram, informed by: ‘Writing Effective Reports: Preparing Policy Briefs’ available at
docrep/014/i2195e/i2195e03.pdf. Contact Laura on [email protected] / 0131 651 4211

If you require this document in an alternative format, e.g., large print,
please contact Emma Giles on [email protected] / 0131 650 9370

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336
Knowledge Exchange 'How to' guides for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

This guide will help you to structure a research briefing. It provides a set of questions and prompts to consider before you start writing, a suggested structure and practical tips. Write a research …

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to write a briefing paper?

Consider a summary section. Some briefing papers include a summary section at the start of the paper, summarizing the entire paper in a few bullet points. Decide whether you'd like to do this, and if so, set aside space for this section. [6]

How to write an effective research brief?

How to write an effective research brief. 1 1. Preparation is key. As with any project, before you start it’s crucial you think through what you want and need to deliver. Here are some things ... 2 2. Be clear on your objectives. 3 3. Remember your audience. 4 4. Structure your research brief. 5 5. Make it thorough, yet succinct. More items

How do you write a brief introduction for a research paper?

Craft an opening that summarizes the issue. The next part of the paper must describe the issue or problem in some detail. Start with a brief opening, usually labeled "issue" or "purpose" that describes in a sentence or two the main issue the paper focuses on and/or why you are submitting this paper.

Why are research briefs bad for your project?

At worst, the findings will fail to meet your objectives, costing you time and money. We’ve seen a lot of research briefs over the years. Some of which have been well thought through and clear, helping us prepare a detailed proposal and deliver an effective project and subsequent results.