EQUIMOB: Inclusive Cities through Equitable Access to Urban Mobility


15 January 2021

Policy Brief WriteShop

Trainer: Ms. Romy Santpoort

On 15th January 2021, EQUIMOB organized a Policy Brief Writeshop, conducted by Ms. Romy Sandpoort, that involved around 30 participants from Utrecht University, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Delhi School of Economics, Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC) from India. The workshop was held over a two-hour timeframe and designed in an interactive manner to engage participants to brainstorm and pen down relevant research findings in a factual, appealing, concise and timely manner.

Screenshot from the writeshop session

Ms. Romy explained that more than ever, academic research is expected to have an impact on society and development. At the same time, policymakers, businesses, development practitioners and other societal actors need rigorous research to inform their decisions. Yet, only a very small number of practitioners use google scholar as a source of information. Too often, academic research remains in the academic spheres and is not used by societal actors.

The reasons behind this, as Ms. Romy pointed out, was that societal actors (particularly policymakers and business people) are notorious for their busy schedules and they do not have access to peer-reviewed journals that are often behind expensive paywalls. Or they may be unaware of existing research on the topic in question. Academic papers often contain much more information than societal actors require. On top of that, academics are champions among ‘jargonauts’: our papers are full of academic slang. This is not a surprise, given the fact that academic papers are mostly written for their fellow academics.

Hence, sharing our research findings through, for example, policy briefs, reports, infographics, blogs and videos to a wider audience requires an entirely different way of reporting on your methods, findings and conclusions.

In this writeshop, Ms. Romy conducted individual exercises where participants were encouraged to practice free writing for ten minutes. And this would ideally be followed by successive ten-minute writing sessions, each session distilling the thought process to focus on specific elements from the previous session. Ms. Romy also discussed and share strategies, tips and tricks to engage audiences with our research and optimize its societal impact. She explained the differences between (i) Research briefs, (ii) Policy briefs; and (iii) Objective briefs and (iv) Advocacy Briefs.

This was followed by group exercises between the participants where each group was tasked to come up with a pitch identifying three key policy takeaways from their research findings for a designated stakeholder. The three teams were as follows:

  • Gender and Public Transport
  • Elderly and the disabled in Public Transport
  • Violence in Public Transport

Each group presented to the rest of the participants who took on the role of being stakeholders and posed questions. The writeshop was an effort to equip participants with the tools to draft policy briefs in the project to reach out effectively to the network of diverse stakeholders.