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Guidelines for Preparation of Papers

Position Papers

The aim of a position paper, submission or proposal is to provide sufficient information for the body receiving it to give properly informed advice or make a properly informed decision.  Authors of papers should address the audience to whom their paper is directed and take into account the information its members will require.

Reports for information only

Reports differ from position papers, submissions or proposals in that they simply provide information, generally for noting, rather than proposals for action.

Policy covering papers

A covering paper should explain the need for the introduction of the new policy, or for proposed revisions to an existing policy.  It should also describe the process undertaken to develop or amend the policy.

Structure of Papers

Papers should be structured using the headings below, where appropriate.

1.     Proposal

Brief summary of one or two sentences (not the full recommendations).

2.    Background

Explain context, including relevant past events or decisions.  If appropriate, include an explanation of why the paper is being presented to the Committee at this time.

3.    Discussion

Include reasoning behind the proposal, and how it will work.  This section should also refer to any other options that have been considered, and reasons for preferring this proposal.  If there is a relevant University policy or procedure, explain whether the proposal is in accord with it.  If the proposal results in a new policy document, it should be included as an attachment.

4.    Recommendation

See Guidelines for recommendations below.

Other headings

Include the following headings, as appropriate:

Strategic Plan
Explain how the proposal accords with the University's agreed strategic objectives, with reference to specific documents, eg the University Strategic Plan, Division/Faculty Plans, etc.

Resources required and/or cost/benefit analysis
Include summary of costs and sources of funding required. Where resources required are significant, there should be a thorough analysis of the costs v. benefits, and, where applicable, the risk exposure, either in the text or by way of an appendix. Unfunded proposals should also identify a possible source of funding

Consultation
List all persons/groups consulted; and summarise their responses.  If paper is an "exposure draft", indicate who will be consulted before the paper is finalised. Groups might include:  individual staff;  departments/sections;  managers of relevant administrative units (particularly those involved in implementation);  advisory committees;  relevant unions;  other affected parties.  Include the name of a person who can be contacted for more information.

Implementation and communication
Give details of the process, including key dates and actioning officers, that will be used to implement the proposal, if it is approved.  Give details of how and to whom the proposal will be communicated, if it is approved.

Review
Give details of the expected outcomes, and how and when they will be measured; when a review is to be held; and what the processes for establishing the review will be.

Guidelines for recommendations

What is a recommendation?

A recommendation, in its basic form, is a request that a committee, board or council take a particular action. (Strictly speaking, it is a “motion” but it is University practice to use the term “recommendation”.)

What form should a recommendation take?

Recommendations start with the word “That”, except where they contain a preamble, and must be in the subjunctive mood.

A recommendation is a request that a committee do something

Do not recommend that a committee note something or (even worse) that it discuss something.
A recommendation is a request that a committee do something and discussion by the committee focuses on whether or not it should do the requested thing. If you recommend that a committee note something then this suggests that the committee should discuss whether or not it should note something. If you recommend that a committee discuss something then this suggests that the committee should discuss whether or not to discuss the thing (leading to the possibility that it could resolve not to discuss it).

Such recommendations often arise from a desire to elicit feedback from a committee on some matter. It is acceptable to mark papers “For discussion” but there is no way to compel a committee to discuss something or to provide feedback, however much it is wished for.

A committee does the thing, it does not agree to its being done.
Where a committee has the power to do a thing, the recommendation should simply state the action required; it should not ask the committee to agree to the action.

For example, if a committee has the power to appoint someone to a position then the recommendation should simply ask the Committee to do so.

Do NOT recommend:

That the Committee agree to the appointment of John Smith to the position of Head of International Marketing.

Do recommend:

That the Committee appoint John Smith to the position of Head of International Marketing.

Use of the verb “to approve” in recommendations

A committee approves something, it does not approve that something
Recommend approval of the thing to be done, not approval that the thing be done.

Do NOT recommend:

That Council approve that the Mitchell Building be demolished.

Do recommend:

That Council approve the demolition of the Mitchell Building.

A committee approves the doing of something by someone, not someone to do something
Recommend approval of the doing of a thing by someone, not approval of the person to do a thing.

Do NOT recommend:

That Council approve the Chancellor to execute the contract to demolish the Mitchell Building.

Do recommend:

That Council approve the execution by the Chancellor of the contract to demolish the Mitchell Building.

However, a committee could authorise someone to do a thing, for example you could recommend:

That Council authorise the Chancellor to execute the contract to demolish the Mitchell Building.

As far as possible, recommendations should be self-contained
Recommendations should contain all the information required to understand what action is being taken; recommendations should be “self-contained”.

When recommendations are approved and become resolutions, the wording of the recommendation is transcribed into the minutes exactly as it appears in the supporting paper (unless the recommendation is amended during the meeting). If the recommendation contains references such as “in attachment A” or “as above” then this is what will appear in the minutes. However, in the context of the minutes such references will have no meaning and it will not be clear to the reader exactly what the committee has approved.

Where inclusion of all the relevant information in the recommendation would result in an unmanageably large amount of text, it is permissible to refer to other parts of the supporting document, or other documents, but the reference should contain sufficient detail to ensure that there is no ambiguity about what is being decided.

Do NOT recommend:

That Academic Board approve the recommendations in attachment A.

Do recommend:

That Academic Board approve the recommendations in attachment A to the Report of the Review of Chemistry 2018.

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