Frequently Asked Questions: The Issue Section

What’s the difference between the Problem and the Issue?

The Issue box provides the broader context and sets the stage, while the Problem box is more focused and specific to your work or research question. The Issue box is helpful for providing context and indicating how the Problem you’ve identified fits into the bigger picture. 

How broad/narrow is too broad/narrow?

The Issue needs to be broad enough to encompass the key points you want to get across, but specific enough that it sets up what’s to come.

My research is only one small part of this topic. Is that okay?

Yes. Putting your work into the broader context helps you to take a step back and articulate the other parts of the Message Box and why they should matter to your audience. It can also help guide you as you work through the Message Box. Often, one piece of the Message Box will feel very clear, the others, maybe not so much. So taking a broader view and thinking about the national or international context can be helpful.

Why does word choice matter?

The Issue can cue or ‘frame’ the rest of your Message Box, so while it seems very simple, it’s still important for signaling the scale, severity, or significance of your message.

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