This section captures experience pooled from within the DPC on what makes a good (and bad) policy. Use this to set off in the right direction for creating your new policy.

You may wish to summarize some of these points and other relevant requirements into a set of guiding principles to inform your writing of the policy – you can refer back to these throughout the process to ensure you are meeting the aims you set out.

What makes a good policy?

What makes a bad policy?

A document of 4–8 pages is easy to read and understand, especially for managers and colleagues not involved in digital preservation work on a daily basis.

A document that is overly lengthy, takes a long time to read or is hard to understand. This may become a barrier to the participation and support you might need to progress.

Uses language that is as concise as possible without jeopardizing the clarity and usefulness of the text – why use 10 words if you can say it in 5 without losing the meaning?

Trying to insert all input from all sources with no rigorous editorial control or reference to a template.

A document built on credible research and appreciation of context.

Trying to write the policy before all aspects of the environment are understood and all potential implications of implementing the policy have been examined.

A document that is clearly laid out using a logical sequence, hierarchy and appropriate formatting (bullet points, numbering etc.)

Dense text with long paragraphs with references and notes that detract from the readability of the document.

The policy is written in a style that is appropriate for the audience using clear and accessible language.

A reliance on jargon, acronyms and too much detail (which may put off non-specialist readers who may be key stakeholders).

Clearly references other, related, policy, strategy documents in the organization, and is formated using a house style.

A document that appears to be an isolated and anomalous policy with no apparent sanction or buy-in from the organization.

A policy that is aligned with the vision, mission and strategy of the organization.

A policy that is misaligned with the broader purpose of the organization.

It is up-to-date with an appropriate and clearly defined schedule for review.

So much detail (for example named tools, solutions and suppliers) that it quickly goes out of date, making the task of updating it onerous.

There is clear ownership of the policy at a high level within the organization.

Insufficient senior ‘buy-in’, resulting in a feeling that compliance and implementation of the policy is discretionary.

It is focused on a self-contained and logical single area of activity or requirement.

It covers too much ground and attempts to address other gaps in the policy landscape.

Includes a clear mechanism for enabling stakeholders to give input to the policy and suggest changes and improvements.

The finished policy is regarded as a finalized and static document.

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