Rubric for Briefing Papers

The third assignment for the course is to write a succinct briefing for a (real!) politician on a specific policy issue related to climate change. You’ll need to pick a specific politician (e.g. a city councillor, mayor, MPP, MP, PM, foreign leader, etc), and a specific issue that you want to address. Your briefing will need to summarize the science, and then use it to argue for a specific action (something that is in that politician’s power to do).

Writing a briefing paper is hard because politicians rarely have time to read about anything in depth. The challenge here is to do it all in a 2-page briefing paper.

Here’s a suggested rubric. Feel free to suggest improvements to the rubric through the comments section.


  •  Did you clearly identify which politician you are writing for?
  •  Is the issue you’re writing about within the remit of that politician?
  •  Is this politician the right person to take action on this issue?


  •  Is it clear what issue you’re writing about?
  •  Does your paper explain what the issue is?
  •  Does your paper explain why it’s important?
  •  Is your argument for its importance convincing?


  • Does the paper have a suitable introduction and conclusion?
  • Does the body of the paper follow a logical argument?
  • Is the argument supported with appropriate facts/references?
  • Are the facts you present relevant to the purpose of the paper?
  • Do the facts you present build upon one another in a logical way?


  • Do you cover what the science has to say about this issue?
  • Do you address the ethical / moral issues?
  • Do you address broader societal implications?


  • Does your paper make a clear recommendation for action?
  • Is the chosen action an appropriate one for the issue and the politician you are targeting?
  • Does the recommendation follow from the evidence you have presented?
  • Does your paper explain why this recommendation is better than the alternatives?


  • Is the paper easy to read?
  • Does it engage the reader?
  • Is it concise (straight to the point, focussed, right level of detail)?
  • Does it use appropriate formatting, grammar, spelling?

Overall impression

  • Would the reader feel well-informed after reading this paper?
  • Would the reader be convinced the recommended action is necessary?
  • Would the reader be able to convince her constituents that this action is necessary?

This entry was posted in Instructor Notes. Bookmark the permalink.