The Position Paper - From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

The Position Paper
From a Class Paper to a Publishable Review
Conference Proposals and Article Types

Position papers or statements typically are written about controversial issues. At some point during your university career, you probably were asked to write a position paper. In many respects, it is similar to a debate because it presents different perspectives on an issue and makes the writer’s stance on the topic clear.

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See Simon Fraser University’s basic guide to writing position papers

In Academia, position papers

· Are detailed statements supported by research

· Have a scholarly voice and formal tone

· Focus on a single issue

· Take a stand on a topic of importance to the discipline

· Articulate a viewpoint and/or policy

· Lend authoritative support to members of the group seeking to implement best practices

Position papers often are used by professional organizations to represent their stand on a controversy. Whether position papers are written by a single author or a panel of experts, they will be peer reviewed by a diverse group of professionals to ensure that the statements made can be endorsed by the organization. It can be particularly daunting to get critical reviews and recommendations from a dozen or more experts in the field on a manuscript—some of which is conflicting. Many times, responding to such feedback first requires a “review of the reviews” in order to provide direction for rewrites. Position papers have an important function in Academia. In contrast to the common disclaimers made in the media (e.g., “the views and opinions expressed during this broadcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the official policy or position of the network”), a position paper does attempt to set policy and reflect the position of the organization on an important issue.

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Check out Study Guides and Strategies for advice on how to write a position paper at