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Position Paper Process & Guidelines

  1. Position papers state positions officially endorsed by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA) as authorized by the Board of Directors and are intended to advance the profession of psychiatric-mental health nursing. Position papers discuss issues in the field of psychiatric-mental health nursing of vital interest to the public and to the membership at large. A position paper will discuss not only the majority opinion about its subject but also a range of accepted (mainstream) minority opinions and will be based on the best available evidence and use inclusive language*. The purpose of a position paper (white paper) is to advocate a specific solution or best way to go in addressing a particular concern.
  2. A position paper is initiated by the President or by direction of the Board of Directors.
  3. The Board of Directors appoints a chair to lead the position paper development.
  4. Members with subject matter expertise are identified and approved by the board to assist in preparing the first draft of the paper.
  5. The first draft is submitted to the Board of Directors for review and comment. The Board of Directors votes (simple majority) to accept or reject the paper in concept. The Board could request further revision or clarification before taking a vote.
  6. The draft is re-edited and member feedback obtained on the new draft.
  7. The authors re-edit the paper based on members’ comments and then submit it to the Board for approval. The Board votes (simple majority) to accept, accept with additional revisions, or reject the paper.
  8. Accepted position papers will be published as approved (with the exception of stylistic changes) on the website as a position endorsed by the American Psychiatric Nurses Association for three years.
  9. A paper rejected by the Board of Directors may be submitted to any scholarly journal as the product of the authors, but it may not be identified as an endorsed opinion of APNA.
  10. APNA’s endorsement of a position paper ends three years from publication of the position paper. APNA may renew its endorsement of a position paper by following steps below, with revision of the original manuscript as appropriate for changes in knowledge or understanding that occur during the three-year life of the original position paper.

*As outlined in the Guidelines on Inclusive Language and Images in Scholarly Communication.

Position Paper Format

A position paper shall be concise (fewer than 2000 words recommended) and formatted as below:

Abstract: The abstract is a concise (fewer than 250 words) review of the paper. The abstract summarizes the introduction, background, body, and major points of the paper.

Introduction: The introduction concisely states the purpose and historical background that prompted creation of the paper.

Discussion: The discussion is a review of the current state of knowledge on a particular subject. This section should contain only information currently accepted as factual under existing scientific methodology and knowledge. This section is intended to present a balanced review of the subject of the paper by highlighting the current state of knowledge, areas of contention, and preferred methods of practice. The paper will acknowledge and discuss mainstream minority opinions. Personal opinions, speculative theory, or information relative to a specific case cannot be included in this discussion.

Conclusion: The conclusion states succinctly the major points supported by the paper.

References: The paper shall include a concise list of references that support the main points of the paper as well as the mainstream minority opinions discussed in the paper. Papers will be prepared using the American Psychological Association (APA) Manual.

(Adapted from National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) approved 2/21/06;

Process for Review and Sunsetting

Position papers are reviewed by the APNA Board of Directors three years after their original approval date. Upon review, the Board will move to take one of the following actions:

  • Form and/or charge a council, workgroup, or task force with updating the resource.
  • Determine that the resource is still relevant and does not need updating at this time. The date of board review will be added to the paper it will be reviewed on an annual basis until it has been sunset or updated.
  • Archive the resource and remove it from the APNA website but maintain it on file at APNA for historical purposes.


Approved by the Board of Directors – July 13, 2010
Reviewed – July 2012
Revised – January 2020