COVID-19 Vaccine admininstration

Posted On Mar 30 2021

What is a position paper?

A position paper is a hybrid between an essay and a report.

A position paper presents one side of a reasonable opinion about an issue. The objective of a position paper is to convince the reader that your opinion is valid and defensible.

As the author of a position paper, while you need to cover all sides of the issue, you must take one side of a debate and persuade your reader that your position is grounded in solid knowledge of the topic. You therefore need to support your argument with reasoning and evidence, and use reasoning and evidence to refute the counter-arguments presented by the other side in the debate.

Recommended structure

The recommended structure allows you to ensure that the above objectives are met.

Given the word count limit (1500 words, +/- 10%, references and appendices excluded), the optimal structure has: an introduction, a development in two parts which first presents the counter-arguments and then your refutations and position, followed by a brief conclusion.


The introduction has a dual purpose: to indicate the topic and your argument, and to arouse the reader’s interest in what you have to say. Introduce the topic by placing it in context, by putting it in perspective. Connect it with current academic and public debates.

Assert your position and clarify which aspects of those debates it addresses or helps settle.

Provide a roadmap, i.e., announce the structure of what's to follow.

Two-part development

A useful way to plan out your two-part development is to generate counter-arguments by asking yourself what someone who disagrees with your position might say about each of the points you will be making made or about your position as a whole. Then consider how you would respond to them.

For example, you might reject the counter-argument and explain why it is mistaken. Or you might concede that the other side makes a valid point but explain why your position is nonetheless superior (theoretically, empirically or both). The reader needs to feel that your position is stronger than the other sides arguments. Be sure to present the other sides arguments fairly and objectively.


To fix ideas, consider how opponents in political talk shows debate.

Politician A from party X says, it is urgent that we implement policy so-and-so because... Politician B from party Y replies, A raises an important point, but policy so-and-so is a blunt instrument. A better alternative is... Politician A responds: Policy so-and-so is hardly the blunt instrument B claims it to be. On the contrary, it allows... Etc.

Try to reproduce this sort of argumentative joust.

Instead of giving a long but superficial list of many different counter-arguments and replies, it is better to consider two serious counter-arguments in some depth.

Make sure that your replies are consistent with and lead up to your position.

Note that you may find yourself changing what you thought your original position was when carefully considering counter-arguments. If you sense this is happening, revise your position accordingly, making sure to make the appropriate adjustments (e.g., in the way your introduce and assert your position in the introduction).

Develop three key points supporting your position.

Clarify each point using your educated and informed opinion. Use at least two sources (preferably theory and data) for each point. Reference your sources appropriately.


The most effective conclusion is one that restates your position in different words and then briefly discusses its potentially broader implications.


The view that policy so-and-so should be implemented, while politically expedient in the short run, is economically counter-productive in the long run. A wiser course of action would be... While this paper has focused on [area/policy discussed] it is likely that its conclusions hold for [other area/policy not discussed] because...

Sample outline


Introduce the topic

Provide background on the topic to explain why it is important

Assert your argument (your position), formulate this in a one-sentence statement

Announce the structure of what's to follow

The counter-argument

Summarize (fairly) the 1st key point made by the other side

Summarize (fairly) the 2nd key point made by the other side

Provide supporting information/evidence for these two points

Refute (theoretically, empirically or both) the two points

Your argument

Briefly re-assert your position

Assert 1st key point supporting your position

Assert 2nd key point supporting your position

Assert 3rd key point supporting your position


Restate your position

Note on what basis (theoretical, empirical or both) it is superior to the other sides view

Note broader implications

A note on section titles

You should use section titles in your position paper. While it is fine to use generic titles for Introduction and, you should think of tailor-made titles for the development.



The weak case for policy so-and-so

Other sides position: policy so-and-so will help achieve X

Other sides justification: it worked in some other country (evidence)

Refutation: it had negative long-term side-effects there (evidence)

We need to go back to the drawing board

We don't know enough (theoretically, empirically) about how to achieve X here

It is debatable that X is even something we want to achieve

Assuming that we do want X, alternative policies may be available (explicate)



Cochrane, J. (2017). “Health Care Policy Isn’t So Hard”, The Grumpy Economist. (05.02.2021)

Culyer, A. J. (1982). "Public or Private Health Services? A Skeptics View", Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2(3), pp. 386-402.
Mankiw, N. G. (2017). “The Economics of Healthcare”.

Reardon et al., Chap. 4, 10, 14.

Sloman & Garratt, Chap. 2.


Things to think about:

Identify the type of good
Identify the types of institutions (State, market)
Identify the type of market (competitive or not, national or international, regulated or not…)
Identify key economic agents in the society (the general population, key workers, pharmaceutical firms, ministers and MPs, the NHS as an organisation, NHS staff, the WHO, other countries) and their respective interests
Clarify the debate of the State vs. the market
Identify winners and losers in either mode of vaccine allocation
Identify the effects on the economy and society

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