Writing Policy Papers

Writing Policy Papers-58
Health and science policy can mean many things, but in this paper, it is the decisions taken by regional, national or multilateral organisations that aim to have an impact on health, both international and domestic.

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Papers which are as simple as possible (but no simpler) are most likely to be taken up in policy.

Most policy questions have many scientific questions, from different disciplines, within them.

Policy decisions are invariably weakened when they do not take account of the best current knowledge.

Incorporating relevant research findings into policy and practice should therefore be central to the aims of those undertaking practically oriented health research, including in the basic and social sciences.

This role was an interface between science and policy, and I briefly also acted as director of policy.

It is therefore one person’s view rather than a consensus statement, with a bias to international development, but the points made are likely to be common ground to most policymakers trying to get policy based on the best available science.

The second is that policies fall on a continuum between purely political decisions, and purely technical decisions.

A political decision might, for example, be whether to allocate resources to primary schools or stroke care; science has little to offer in this choice.

This is the responsibility and skill-set of academia, although policy-makers can help prioritize key questions.

The second is a demand-side problem, with policymakers unwilling or unable to take account of good existing evidence.

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