HPSR Syntheses: Policy briefs, Research summaries, Briefings notes, Systematic Reviews and White Papers

This page links to a range of different syntheses of health policy and systems research from across the Internet − a helpful resource for evidence-informed policy-making. We have divided the available syntheses into three major types:

  • Short syntheses, including:
    • Policy Briefs
    • Research Summaries
    • Briefing Notes

  • Systematic Reviews

  • White Papers

Only materials relevant to, or focusing on, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are included here.

Short syntheses

In the grey literature, names for short syntheses documents are used interchangeably. Terms such as “Policy Brief,” “Research Summary,” “Briefing Note,”, and “Technical Brief” are typically used indiscriminately, and could refer to similar or highly dissimilar ideas.
For simplicity, we have reclassified them here, grouping those that offer the same type of information into Policy Briefs, Research Summaries and Briefing Notes.

A Policy Brief is defined here as a summary document focusing on a policy or research question, providing a short overview of its main characteristics, typically offering some implementation, governance, delivery and financing concerns and options, and concluding with implications for policy (with or without recommendations).

A Research Summary provides a summary of a larger research report. It usually mirrors the typical format of a research study (e.g. Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions), but in an abridged format.

A Briefing Note also seeks to summarize a much larger issue -− be it a report, topic, synthesis or body of evidence. Briefing Notes adopt various different styles, and are intended primarily to offer the “big picture” for those interested in specific or more detailed knowledge. The Alliance, for instance, has produced a series of briefing notes.

Systematic Reviews

A systematic review is a review article that compiles and synthesizes the best available research on a particular question in order to better understand a topic. More than a literature review, systematic reviews use a rigorous scientific method to obtain all relevant studies of high quality regarding a topic. More background information on systematic reviews can be found in an Alliance briefing note.

As defined by the Campbell Collaboration, "A systematic review must have: clear inclusion/ exclusion criteria; an explicit search strategy; systematic coding and analysis of included studies; and meta-analysis (where possible)”.

White Papers

A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and conveys the issuing body's vision on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.

Contact us to add information to these pages.


Please note that many of these resources are from external institutions. Neither the Alliance HPSR nor WHO takes responsibility for or specifically endorses the positions expressed therein, and the views are those of the authors alone.

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