Lesson 4: Policy Research

Policy research can be either a field study (primary research) or a desk study (secondary research) or both.
Generally, there are two types of policy research:


  1. Policy Analysis – This includes a ‘best choice of comparison’ of various policies, procedures, and strategies for the purposes of choosing the most suitable one. This method of evaluation is often used in policy formulation and when defining implementation processes and strategies.
  2. Policy Evaluation – Research methods are employed to determine the impact of a particular policy, program or procedure. Research assessment is introduced after the implementation of the policy or program and used to evaluate success and correct course if necessary.


Conducting Policy Analysis

Policy analysis is most commonly used when formulating policy or designing an implementation strategy. Policy analysis takes place before program implementation or as part of a policy redesign. When conducting policy analysis it is important to understand what level of policy is being designed and implemented. In general, there are three levesl of policy:

Levels of policy
Directional policy
  • Most general level of policy making
  • Signals, intentions and priorities of an organisation
  • They are few in number and broad in scope
  • Signals a long term institutional commitment to a problem or issue
Strategic policy
  • Describes the actions to be taken in pursuit of policy decisions
  • Provides clarity and detail about how an organisation will implement major directions
  • Provides details on how changes will be made and accounted for
  • Emphasis targets, outputs and milestones
Operational policy
  • Most specific and most narrowly scoped
  • Enable organisations to fullfil daily operations
  • They detail workflow and often provide procedures
  • Guide people in their day to day work

Learn more about the different policies in the following.

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