The National Academy of Science is a non-partisan policy organization that is part of the National Research Council based in Washington, DC. Within the NAS, the Ocean Studies Board undertakes studies at the request of federal agencies, Congress or other sponsors, or acts upon its own initiative to research the science, policies and infrastructure needed to understand, manage and conserve coastal and marine environments and resources. As a Policy Fellow in 2003, I was tasked with summarizing a 228-page report called “Exploration of the Seas: Voyage into the Unknown” into 4 pages.
The target audience of the report-in-brief was Congressional staff and policymakers. The report-in-brief is usually the most widely read piece of an NAS publication package (which includes the report, the report-in-brief and the executive summary). The formal impact is hard to estimate, but the exercise is one I have often repeated: extracting the essential information on a highly technical subject and conveying it so that readers unfamiliar with the topic can understand it.