Submitting Policy/Position Papers
OMSA welcomes any of their members to submit ideas for creating a policy or position paper. Please see the following guidelines for writing and submitting a proposed paper. Any inquiries can be sent to the Director of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org for Education Advocacy related papers or Director of Representation at email@example.com for Political Advocacy related papers. Proposals for new papers must be submitted using the form at the bottom of this page.
The following templates must be used when writing an OMSA Policy or Position paper. Please do not alter the margins, fonts or formatting. Note: These new guidelines came into effect in January 2018 and may not be reflected in past documents.
- Policy Statement Template (updated in January 2018)
- Position Paper Template (updated in January 2018)
You are not required to use these templates for the summary that is required as a part of your initial proposal (details below). However, it is recommended that you have the same sections in your summary as in the template to ensure that all necessary information is included.
Paper Writing Guide
This guide has been developed to ensure that individuals interested in writing policy/position papers for OMSA adhere to high professional standards when completing their proposed papers. OMSA members come from a variety of backgrounds with varying experience with policy/position papers. This guide highlights the key areas that is utilized by OMSA executive to perform critical analysis of the proposed papers and to create productive dialogue on the papers.
Click here to download the full guide that includes an outline of the OMSA policy/position paper endorsement process. Key aspects of the guide pertaining to writing effective papers are outlined below.
Note: It is not required that a proposed paper fulfills all the requirements laid out in this guide, rather that each area has undergone careful consideration, and that justifications are logical and understandable within the context that the paper is written in when a deviation from this guide arises. In the end, it is up to the discretion of the OMSA executive, after evaluating these factors, whether the proposed paper is suitable to guide the organization.
Distinguishing Policy vs. Position Papers
Policy Statement/Paper: The term policy statement or policy paper is used to designate a straightforward statement or declaration of an organization's policy/position on a particular topic or topics. Such statements usually are short and concise and do not include background information or discussion relative to the policy. A policy statement generally would not quote facts and figures developed by outside sources and would not utilize a bibliography.
Position Paper: The primary distinction between a policy statement and a position paper is that a position paper is far more comprehensive than a simple declaration of the policy/position on a particular topic. A position paper also contains background information and discussion to provide a more complete understanding of the issues involved and the rationale behind the position. A position paper should cite outside sources and include a bibliography.
Evaluation Checklist for Policy/Position Papers
Note: Caution should be used when making recommendations directed at other allied health professionals. In instances where recommendations are to be directed at other allied health professionals, stakeholder engagement with their representative bodies should first be implemented to seek mutually agreeable solutions. Direct conflict should be avoided unless the medical student body and the medical profession overwhelmingly support the position and an agreement cannot be reached.
If questions 1-7 below are answered “Yes” and questions 8-10 are answered “No”, the preliminary requirements for a position/policy paper will have been met.
Adapted from the American Dietary Association (ADA)
- Does the paper express an opinion on an emerging issue which may be controversial or may fill a professional/student need?
- Does the paper relate to an issue which either impacts the healthcare of the public or impacts medical students?
- Is the paper derived from an analysis and synthesis of current facts, data and research literature?
- Does the paper facilitate appropriate action by the government, public, members, or other professionals?
- Is the paper proactive in promoting the optimal health and well-being of the public?
- Does the paper reflect the mission, vision, philosophy, values and the strategic initiatives of OMSA?
- Will the paper serve as an education document for members, other professionals and/or the public?
- Would the paper result in practice guidelines?
- Is the paper negative with respect to an issue?
- Has the topic of the paper been addressed in previous OMSA policy or position papers?
Tips for Writing Effective Policy/Position Papers
In addition to the preliminary requirements listed above, the following questions can help guide you in writing a strong paper with greater likelihood of being accepted by the OMSA executive and having a greater impact overall:
Adapted from the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT)
Introduction and Background:
- Have all features necessary to construct a coherent introduction been included (i.e. background context, definition of the problem, methodology and limitations, road map)?
- Is the context brief and focused on the problem?
- Is the nature and significance of the problem clearly communicated?
- Have the methodology and limitations in scope of the study been introduced?
- Is the organization of the paper clearly outlined?
- When and how did the problem arise?
- What has been the historical, legal, political, social and economic context?
- How did the problem come to public attention?
- Who has been affected by the problem?
- What past policies have been implemented to try to address the problem and what were the outcomes of these policies?
- Problem within its current policy environment.
- What are the differing opinions on the problem and the current approach?
- Has everything been included in the problem description section in order to present a comprehensive and convincing picture?
- Is it organized in an understandable and readable way?
- Do the principles represent the mission and values of OMSA?
- Are the principles stated as general beliefs that can be broadly applied to a variety of issues?
Policy Options and Recommendations:
- Have the major findings of all important cited studies been synthesized?
- Have alternative policy options been considered with their associated benefits, harms and costs?
- Are there clear links between the problem description, principles and recommendations?
- Are the positions and reasoning dominant throughout the recommendation?
- Are the recommendations logically divided into separate actionable tasks and clearly presented?
- Are the recommendations SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Assignable, Relevant and Time-bound)?
Format, Tone and Organization:
- Have all elements been linked with the problem description effectively?
- Does each element of the argument include a claim and support?
- Is the paper adequately divided into paragraphs to provide enough physical breaks in the text for the reader?
- Has each logical unit of the argument been developed in a separate paragraph?
Use of Sources
- Have the arguments been built on the use of a wide variety of sources?
- Are the included sources authoritative enough to support the argument?
- Is there an appropriate referenced/cited source for data that cannot be considered common knowledge?
Proposal Submission Form
Please write a 1-2 page single-spaced summary of your proposed paper to accompany your proposal. This summary should provide background context into the topic of your paper as well as the position you will take. In-text citations may be used, and an additional third page may be used for references (Vancouver style). The checklist and tips above provide further considerations for the final paper, and may be used as a template for the summary as well.
Use the form below to submit basic information about your proposed paper. You will receive an email confirmation on submitting this form with instructions to submit the summary of your paper to firstname.lastname@example.org for Education Advocacy related papers or email@example.com for Political Advocacy related papers. Your proposal is considered incomplete until the summary document is received.
Although proposals are encouraged on a rolling basis, the final draft of the proposed paper must be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the next OMSA executive meeting.