Contents and Schema of Policy papers

I. Introduction and background of the issue

The purpose of this section is to provide the reader with background information about the issue. This section shall consider

  • How did the issue originate? What is the historical background of the issue? Are there critical incidents which emphasize the importance of the issue?
  • Why is this important issue for society at large and policy makers to address?
  • Why dentists/oral health professionals / policy makers should be concerned with this issue?
  • What philosophical or ethical issues underscore the importance of the issue? What is the impact of the existing policies in this regard
II. Statement of the problem

The purpose of this section is to analyze the specific issues related to the problem and the societal/medical consequences if this problem continues unaddressed. Questions to focus on in this section are as follows:

  • What evidence is there suggesting a change is policy is needed?
  • How does the problem affect critical populations, groups, and society at large?
  • What is the specific problem? (define the specific problem)
  • What are the major causes of the problem?
  • What are the key questions, ethical debates, or controversies associated with the problem?
III. Current policies

The purpose of this section is to analyze current policies (or programs) that deal with the problem. The questions to address are as follows:

  • What aspect of the problem are current policies (or programs) trying to solve?
  • Have these policies solved, alleviated, exacerbated, or had no effect on the problem? Why or why not?
  • Who supports the current policies? Why do they support them?
  • What are the major flaws or limitations of the current policies?
  • Who is in favor of changing the current policies? Why do they want to change them?(these questions can serve as a transition to the next section of the paper)
IV. Alternative solutions

The purpose of this section is to analyze two or three alternative solutions to the problem. In selecting the alternative solutions, choose alternatives that have been seriously proposed by advocates or policy makers. One shall analyze alternatives that have been or are being seriously considered. Expanding (or modifying) current policies (or programs) can be treated as one of the alternative solutions.

For each alternative solution, analyze its strengths and weaknesses and discuss which groups, opinion leaders, or policy makers support or reject it. Ultimately, keep in mind that you might be rejecting these alternative solutions or using parts of them for your own policy proposal in the next section of the paper. The questions to address are as follows:

  • what are the alternatives to the current policies?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the alternatives? Why?
  • Who supports and opposes the alternatives? Why?
  • Why haven't these alternatives been made into policy? Is there some fatal flaw inherent in them or in the way that society views them? Is there another reason why these alternatives haven’t been implemented?
V. Policy recommendations, feasibility & implementation strategies [or this section is sometimes called – “action plan” (proactive connotation)]

The purpose of this section is to formulate an effective policy proposal for the problem you are addressing, demonstrate that your proposal is practical and feasible, and prove that your proposal will work. The questions to address are as follows:

  • What are the specific policy recommendations that your group is proposing to solve the problem? What specific administrative or legal guidelines will your policy provide?
  • How does your policy proposal solve the problem better than current policy or any of the alternatives? What evidence can you offer that demonstrates your proposal will be effective? What reasoning and/or evidence can you provide that demonstrates your proposal is feasible and workable?
  • What legislative body, agency, or other policy-making group will need to approve your proposal in order for it to be implemented? What agency or group will be responsible for administering your proposal?
  • How might you go about influencing these specific groups so that your proposal will be adopted? What spokespersons or policy makers might realistically be interested in supporting your proposal? What evidence can you provide which indicates these people will be likely to serve as advocates for your proposal? What other groups might you entice to form a coalition in support of your proposal? What other implementation strategies might you use to gain support for your proposal?
  • What are the most critical obstacles (financial, legal, ethical, or political) you anticipate in implementing your policy proposal? How do you plan to overcome these obstacles? What policy-makers or groups might be opposed to your proposal? Why would they be opposed to your proposal? How will you counteract the influence of these policy-makers and groups?
  • Are there additional benefits or advantages of your proposal? If your policy proposal is adopted, how soon might we see results? What changes can we expect to see right away? Five years from now?
VI. Summation and conclusion

This section is the capstone of your policy paper, and, as such, should briefly summarize the argument you have made. This section should also include a final persuasive appeal to you reader(s).

VII. Summation and conclusion

This section contains the works cited. Only list references cited in the text of the paper. Follow JGOH procedures when formatting each reference.

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