This website collects several ressources for technology policy paper writing. This collection is not exhaustive but periodically updated.

What is a Policy Paper?

Very succinctly and a bit simplified put: A policy paper is a concise summary of what is known about a particular issue or problem and what political actions are recommended to address the matter. Policy papers are a form of report designed to facilitate policy-making. Their audience are policy-makers (political consultants, administrators, selected members of the executive or legislative) as well as political aides (parliamentary or administrative staff). Policy papers are made available to the public on institutional websites and via professional networks and active outreach. Although many policy papers rely on careful analysis of data, scientific research findings, and evidence-driven case studies, they are neither intended, nor designed to go into academic peer-review. Unlike pure scientific research articles, policy papers contextualize scientific facts and develop a particular standpoint regarding recommendations for actions. Lastly, an essential element that policy papers share are a problem-driven/use-inspired approach. As these documents are directed at political decision-makers and stakeholders, the problems tend to be political, social, or economic in nature.

What is a Technology (Tech) Policy Paper?

A tech policy paper is a concise document that provides an overview of a specific technology-related issue and proposes policy recommendations or solutions to address this issue. It is designed to inform policy-makers, government officials, and other stakeholders about the challenges and opportunities associated with a particular technology or technological development.

Tech policy papers aim to bridge the gap between technology and policy-making, helping policy-makers understand complex technological issues and make informed decisions. They provide concise and accessible information, enabling policymakers to grasp the key aspects of a technology-related problem and consider evidence-based policy options to address it.

Tech policy papers can take on various forms depending on the purpose, audience, and specific requirements of the context. Two particular strong and common (and therefore highly recommended) types are:

  • Issue Papers: This form focuses on a specific technology-related issue or challenge, providing a concise overview of its key aspects, implications, and policy considerations. It aims to raise awareness and understanding of the issue among policymakers and stakeholders.
  • Emerging Technology Papers: This form focuses on new and emerging technologies and their policy implications. It provides an overview of the technology, explores potential applications, risks, and opportunities, and offers policy recommendations to foster responsible development and adoption.

There are also other forms: Comparative policy briefs/papers (compare and contrast different policy approaches or regulatory frameworks related to a particular technology); legislative briefs/papers (provide policymakers with detailed information and analysis of a technology-related legislative proposal or bill); Impact assessment briefs/papers (assess the social, economic, and ethical impacts of a specific technology or technological development); implementation briefs/papers (focus on the practical implementation of a technology-related policy or program); international policy briefs/papers (examine technology-related issues from an international or global perspective).

While also highly valuable, the following formats should not be considered tech policy papers:

  • Technology papers, such as e.g., WEF’s white paper on PETs, which concentrate primarily on science communication of technology with no particular focus on policy-makers or policy recommendations.
  • Likewise, technology reports that offer an overview over currently regulatory apporaches without addressing specific policy issues at hand or offering concrete action recommendations, such as OECD’s Emerging PETs report.
  • State-of-the-art research papers that focus on summarizing a given academic literature for a predominantly academic audience, but are not not problem-driven and rarely include policy recommendations.
  • Academic research papers focusing on analyzing, measuring and evaluating the impact of policies. While relevant for policy-makers, these papers often restrict themselves to delivering scientific facts and estimating probabilities, and do not seek to develop recommendations for action.

Examples of Tech Policy Papers

There are obviously many examples. Here are some recent publications:

Policy Paper Writing

A guide to the essentials of policy paper writing can be found here.