In the fields of International Studies or Politcal Science is very common to read and write policy papers, or analysis, rather than research papers. Do they have the same weight in a cv? Are research papers considered more relevant and serious than policy papers?

  • 2
    I disagree with the close votes on this question, unless they are coming from political scientists. I believe this is a place where the differences between fields are significant, and am looking forward to reading answers.
    – jakebeal
    Nov 7, 2015 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


Most policy journals are not peer reviewed in the same way that research papers are, but many people will put them in their "Publications" section of their CV nonetheless, so long as they are on a research topic. Furthermore, the length of the article and the reputation of the outlet matter a great deal. The more widely read and highly respected the outlet, the better. Also if it is long-form, 3k words or more, that is closer to a research paper.

The gold standard for high-quality policy papers are Foreign Affairs and Congressional Quarterly. Most departments would consider publications in those outlets similar to a research paper,and you are going to have to put in nearly as much research, to get a hit there too.

The best way to tell if it is as good as a research article is to see if well-respected Associate Professors in your sub-field are publishing in that outlet. Full Professors can publish wherever they want, and Asst. Professors may not be able to get it in that outlet. Associate professors don't want to squander their reputation, which they by then have.

A general rule of thumb:

FA, CQ - As good as Research Articles in most cases

Regionally or topically focused outlets like The Diplomat or Army Magazine - Only as good as a research paper if you are regionally specialized, otherwise see below

2nd Tier Policy outlets (Atlantic, Foreign Policy) - As good as research at lower ranked institions, but probably not at a top 20+ institution.

Think Tank Pieces (Including RAND's journal) - Great, if you are looking for a policy job, or at a policy school, otherwise, see below.

Niche Policy outlets (National Review, Mother Jones) - Most schools will not think too highly of these, but still not nothing. Grad students with this on their CV might not have a hard time with it, but unless it is really on your research topic, faculty should steer clear.

Opinion pieces (newspapers, public magazines, blogs) - Anything that is less than 2k words probably goes here, by the way, as is just about anything published online only. Do not put these on your CV, unless in an Op-Ed section, or you are desperate and want people to know you are desperate

As with everything there are exceptions. Articles that are excellent summaries of your work or are very closely tied to your research may be worth including at your discretion.

  • That's very interesting. To clarify, it sounds like to get a paper published in one of the publications you listed one still has to go through a competitive review process of some sort, except that instead of peer-review it's the editors who decide by themselves what gets accepted. @ThePompitousOfLove, is that correct? If that's the case, I would argue that the editorial review serves exactly the same role as peer review, so it's effectively the same thing by a different name. In particular, it makes sense that such papers count as publications.
    – Dan Romik
    Dec 18, 2015 at 4:04
  • @DanRomik That is essentially correct, and why the quality varies so widely. FA, for example, has the editorial backing of CFR, an entire organization with dedicated experts in most related fields. As such in house editorial review is nearly like a peer-review. Similarly, they never have to accept submissions to fill space, as there is always plenty to publish. The closer you get to the bottom of the list, the further editors are from subject matter experts, and the more 'media' like the work becomes. Dec 18, 2015 at 20:15

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