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HPS 402/502: Senior Seminar

Research Guide for HPS 402

Writing Your White Paper

A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that discusses related issues and makes recommendations for addressing them or making decisions about them. Your white paper will draw on academic research, but it should be written for a lay audience.

Part 1. Introduction/Executive Summary

Summarizes what you will write and puts it into context. Should consist of 3 parts:

  • "What You're Studying": start with background contextualizing your topic/issue
  • "So What?": demonstrate why your topic/issue and its impacts are important and why your reader should care about them
  • "Game Plan": outline the main points of your paper and the order in which you will address them

Part 2. Background/Literature Review

You will synthesize your sources to provide a comprehensive review of your topic, its background and context. Your literature review should provide a compelling narrative about the importance of your topic/issue to stakeholders and build your evidence-based arguments that you will then use to build your policy recommendations in Part 3. Your literature review will bring together a variety of sources: 

Each paragraph of  this section represents one aspect of the paper's main focus. Each paragraph should include a topic sentence, evidence, analysis, and a transition sentence:

  • The topic sentence summarizes the paragraph's main idea
  • Use evidence from your research sources to support or make the argument for your assertions about your main idea
  • Analyze your evidence to show how it links to your broader white paper topic/issue
  • Include a transition sentence at the end of each paragraph to connect what you discussed in that paragraph with the main idea of the next paragraph

Part 3. Policy Argument/Solution and Conclusion

Build on your evidence-based arguments from your Literature Review to make a strong argument for a policy recommendation(s). Explain why your recommendations are preferable to other options in terms of feasibility, cost, efficacy, etc.

For more writing help, contact the Writing Center and make an online appointment to meet with one of their consultants.

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