Briefing Book for Prof Tutor Only**



How to Prepare a Briefing Book

There are different types of briefing books. They can be used to prepare a speaker

for a press conference, for an event (like a ceremony in which they are giving or

receiving an award), for or a meeting, etc.

A briefing book can also be used to prepare an organization, a key committee, or a

key representative or decision-maker to quickly gain a command of an issue. It

should identify areas of disagreement, controversy, or tension; it should summarize

the most relevant and compelling evidence that is required to engage intelligently

in discussion, debate, and, of course, policy-making.

A briefing book for policy making purposes should include:

1. Executive Summary: a. What is the issue that this briefing book addresses? b. What is the background the reader needs to understand? c. Are there key tensions or tradeoffs the reader needs to be aware of

before reviewing the evidence?

2. Summary sheet for each cluster of articles, organized by issue or intervention (in this case, two peer-reviewed research articles and two

articles of perspective, editorial, or opinion for each section of the briefing

book). The summary sheet should include:

Article name followed by bullet points that convey, as relevant:

 Question:

 Major Finding(s):

 Methods (if relevant):

 Key Facts:

 Policy Implications (if relevant):

 Feasibility/Scalability (if relevant):

 Key quotes (if relevant):

 Key stakeholders (if relevant):

3. A compendium of the articles (presented in the order in which they are discussed in the summary sheet) in the event the reader wishes to dig deeper

(or check your accuracy or summary!).

Briefing books are internal documents. In this instance, we are asking you to

create a briefing book meant to allow another to make a decision. It should not lead

the reader or suggest positions or make recommendations. This does not mean that


creating a briefing book requires no analysis or judgement. You must determine

what evidence is credible and relevant to the issue. This requires you to frame the

issue, too. What do Dr. Sanchez and Senator Walker need to know?

The articles that you select for the book should be balanced. You would not want

the group or person you are briefing to be broadsided by not knowing all the facts

or counterarguments (in this case, you are not preparing a comprehensive briefing

book, so a reasonable array of facts and counterarguments will suffice). In other

words, you need to present the most relevant, credible literature/evidence that is

available to inform both sides of an issue but do not overlook key, credible articles

that do not align with a position you may have.

That said, if 99 percent of the evidence leads to one conclusion and 1 percent

contradicts that conclusion, make sure the reader understands the balance of

evidence. Do not create a false sense of equivalence simply for the sake of

achieving the appearance of balance.

Finally, the writing should be professional, precise, concise, and show a high

measure of regard for your reader’s time. This is not a novel. Focus on clarity and

accuracy. And kill your darlings: if a piece of information or a journal or news

article isn’t clearly relevant, don’t include it.