USC Price School of Public Policy

Tradecraft of Writing for Policy Analysis and Management

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The most important skill anyone can take to a job is the ability to write clearly and persuasively. This is a “stand alone” manual, intended to assist students in the practice of professional writing skills.

Several premises inform our design of this manual: Decision makers value good writing. Inept writers lose credibility. The activity of writing is excruciating, but becomes less so with practice. A “how–to” manual can assist students in the stressful processes of writing and revision.

In designing the manual, we drew in part from a small group of very useful works on policy analysis and writing. (Bardach, 1996; Krieger, 1988; Lynn, 1980; Majone, 1980, 1989; Meltsner, 1980; Weimer and Vining, 1992) We also called upon our professional and teaching practice, to articulate a model of analytical writing that “like a Bauhaus tool or instrument, has form and function nicely congruent.” (Krieger, 1988, p. 408) Thus, the manual speaks to analysis and argumentation, process and product. It should not be used in a “paint by numbers” fashion, but rather to help writers practice the logic of argumentation, and to show them that analysis and communication constitute a single endeavor. (Meltsner, 1980; Majone, 1989)