What is a Discussion Paper
A discussion paper is a formal discourse or exposition on a topic in which there is an exchange of views culled from the literature. A discussion paper differs from a position paper in that a discussion paper consists of the reasoned defense of your recommendations. In order to offer your own recommendations on an issue, you must present a variety of opinions or recommendations based on the literature. Your goal in writing a discussion paper is to formulate and share your own opinions so that your recommendations are a natural extension of your paper.
Writing a Discussion Paper
There are a variety of things a discussion paper can aim to accomplish. Many features of good discussion writing invite comparison and contrast of specific authors, clinical practice, or different interpretations of a nursing issue, such as telehealth. Discussing the significance of both what is common and what is different will prompt you and the reader to new insights.
A good discussion paper is modest, and makes a small point, but it makes that point clearly and succinctly, and it offers good reasons in support of it. In other words, your paper must offer recommendations. It can't consist in the mere report of your opinions, nor in a mere report of the opinions of the authors you discuss.
A discussion paper usually begins by putting some thesis or argument on the table for consideration. Then it goes on to do one or two of the following:
· Criticize that argument; or show that certain arguments for the thesis are no good
· Defend the argument or thesis against someone else's criticism
· Offer reasons to believe the thesis
· Offer counter-examples to the thesis
· Contrast the strengths and weaknesses of two opposing views about the thesis
· Give examples which help explain the thesis, or which help to make the thesis more plausible
· Argue that certain authors are committed to the thesis by their other views, though they do not come out and explicitly endorse the thesis
· Discuss what consequences the thesis would have, if it were true
· Revise the thesis, in the light of some objection
Your paper has to show some independent thinking. Try to come up with your own arguments, or your own way of elaborating or criticizing or defending some issue we looked at in this course. Merely summarizing what others have said won't be enough.
Proposed Outline of a Discussion Paper
· Briefly highlight the most salient points of your topic
· State your main thesis on the topic for discussion
· Provide background information from the literature on your general topic area
Definition and Scope
· Provide a definition of your topic Outline the scope of the topic-does this affect all of Canada, or just your province or your health care region? Explain.
· How do nurses or the health care system factor into the topic?
Benefits and Challenges
· Describe the benefits to nurses or the health care system
· Describe the challenges that nurses [or other health care providers] face in this topic
· What does the literature say about the benefits and challenges?
Impact and Implications
· What is the impact on nurses or the health care system?
· How will this affect human resource management?
· What other implications do you foresee; what does the literature say about implications?
· What do you think needs to be done next?
· Who do you think should be involved?
· What are the recommendations from the literature?
· Would you agree or disagree with the literature and why?
· Restate your thesis
· Provide a summary of your recommendations
People very often attempt to accomplish too much in a discussion paper. The usual result of this is a paper that's hard to read, and which is full of inadequately defended and poorly explained claims. So don't be over-ambitious. Don't try to establish any earth-shattering conclusions in your paper.
[Reference: Pryor, J. (2004). Guidelines on writing a philosphy paper. Princeton University.]
What is an Issue Paper?
An issue paper differs from a position paper or a discussion paper in that an issue paper consists of a balanced view of a situation or dilemma in which both sides of the situation are clearly articulated. Because authors will often disagree about the kinds of solutions that should be implemented in remedying the situation or dilemma, you are expected to provide an overview of the various points of view found in the literature regarding how this issue should be resolved. Based on your literature review, you will be expected to discuss how you believe this issue should be resolved and provide your own rationale.
Writing an Issue Paper
Searching The Literature
In writing an issue paper you will be expected to search for a variety of literature resources. Relying on your course textbooks or the material in your study guide is not sufficient. You will be expected to search through the Athabasca University Online Library database (you may also use the online Library from another University if you have access), and you may also use the Internet to search through any of the online scholarly databases. In addition, there are many links to articles and online databases in this resources site which you may use.
Defining the Issue
Once you have a sound understanding of your topic, you will need to clearly define the issue. Recall that an issue has two sides so your definition of the issue should include a balanced view.
For example: The electronic patient record has many advantages such as a time saver, clarity, and accessibility, but it also comes with the challenges associated with security, increased financial costs, and implementation problems. Your issue statement might be: Even though there are significant benefits to an electronic record, not every health region has the financial resources to implement the proper security protocols necessary to ensure patient privacy.
Framework of Your Issue Paper
· Introduce your issue
· Identify both sides of the issue
· Provide an issue definition
· Discuss the significance of the issue for nursing
Body of Paper
· Describe your own opinions and beliefs about this issue
· Analysis of the issue is completed through discussion of appropriate frameworks
· Barriers to resolution are identified
· Possible resolution strategies are explored
· Briefly summarize your findings and give directions for future research, or recommendations for further study