What is a position paper?
A position paper is a critical essay that presents an arguable opinion about an issue – typically that of the author or some specified entity. These papers are published in academia, in politics, in law and other domains. These papers also range from the simplest format of a letter to the editor through to the most complex in the form of an academic position essay.
What is a position essay?
A position essay can be referred to as a composition in which an individual presents an arguable statement about something.
By definition, the word position means a standpoint concerning a thing.
Also, the writer demonstrates why they believe the content is worth having the audience listen to and its validity.
While writing any position essay, you should never make a statement without having supporting evidence to your stand.
Besides, you require to take your time to understand the controversial topic before doing the homework.
Position Paper Diagram
Purpose of a Position Paper
The purpose of a position paper is to generate support on an issue. It describes an author’s position on an issue and the rationale for that position. An effective position paper:
- Defines the issue
- Explains the significance of the issue
- Gives a “position” (your thesis statement)
- Includes three supporting arguments
- Gives examples to support arguments
- Shows both sides of an argument, then demonstrate why you agree with one side more than the other.
Elements of the Position Paper
The elements of a position essay are also the essay structure that can be used in writing a position paper assignment. We have also provided good ideas for a research paper, position paper examples to help you with the critical examination of a position.
In the introductory paragraph, you will present your topic. You will also include your thesis statement in this paragraph. The thesis should be the last sentence of this paragraph.
This section is the bulk of your essay, where you present the facts to support your claims. Each claim should be supported with ample and convincing evidence. The facts should be organized logically according to your outline and/or purpose, and they should not be repeated unless necessary for coherence or emphasis.
This section should also include a rebuttal to any counterclaims that you feel are incorrect or that you disagree with. A rebuttal gives you the opportunity to introduce opposing viewpoints and identify any fallacies or inaccuracies within those arguments. It is important to note that it may not be possible to address every counterclaim in a short essay; focus on two or three good ones.
The conclusion serves as the ending paragraph and provides a sense of closure for the reader while reinforcing the main position idea or the author’s position in the paper. The conclusion typically does not offer new information but rather summarizes the main points addressed in the paper.
5 Steps to Writing a Position Paper
Step 1. Select a Topic for Your Paper
You may be assigned a particular topic by your instructor, or you may need to select your own topic. Choose a topic that is relevant and interesting to you as well as your intended audience. If you are given the opportunity to choose your own topic, decide whether you want to select one on which you will argue a particular position or are open to several possibilities. Once you have decided on the subject of your paper, develop some possible topics related to it.
Also, try to select a topic that has more than one reasonable opinion associated with it. This way, you will be able to discuss both sides of the issue and take a particular stance on it. For example, if you choose to write about abortion, you could take a stance against abortion and discuss why abortion is wrong; alternatively, you could take a pro-choice stance and discuss why women have the right to make choices concerning their bodies.
Step 2. Conduct Preliminary Research
Once you choose a topic, conduct preliminary research to determine if there are enough sources available for your paper. Reviewing the basic sources of information on a particular aspect of the topic will help you decide if there is enough evidence to support your argument. If there are not enough sources or if the sources do not meet standards for academic work, choose another topic.
Researching the subject of your paper lets you learn more about it and answer any questions that may have arisen in important step 1. Collect information from various sources such as books, magazines, online journals and libraries. Read through all of the information you have gathered and determine its relevance to the topic of your paper. From this research, create an outline for the structure of your paper and include any good ideas that support or oppose your main argument.
Step 3. Challenge Your Own Topic
Once you have selected a topic and gathered sufficient evidence, evaluate your topic. Do the facts support your position? Can your good ideas be challenged? Is there another side to the issue? Consider opposing viewpoints and then craft a rebuttal that will strengthen your argument. Take a stance on your chosen topic and then challenge it with an opposing viewpoint. This will help you build your argument from the ground up and ensure that your stance is well-supported with evidence.
Step 4. Continue to Collect Supporting Evidence
Continue your research and collect more evidence to support your argument. Don’t forget to evaluate each source as you add it to your list of references.
Now that you have gathered a lot of information, you need to start reading. Read all your sources carefully and thoroughly. Read for both facts and opinions. Read for the reasons behind the opinions — is there evidence? Are the sources reliable?
As you read, you should still be collecting additional evidence. You’ll want to use most of your time or space to provide evidence in support of your argument.
You’ll also want to consider what your opposition might say against your argument, and include that as well. This will help make your paper come across as balanced and thoughtful, rather than one-sided and overly emotional.
Step 5. Create an Outline
Create an outline that will organize your facts in a logical way. Your outline should include an introduction, a series of headings with supporting evidence, and a conclusion that restates your thesis statement and summarizes key points from each heading.
Writing a Position Paper
If you are asked to write a position essay, your task is to select a side on a particular issue and build up a case for your opinion or position. You will use facts, opinions, statistics, and other forms of evidence to convince your particular reader that the author’s position is the best one. The purpose of this kind of paper is to offer an argument that might change the way people think about something.
To take a side on a subject, you should first establish the plausibility of a topic that interests
you. Ask yourself the following questions to ensure that you will be able to present a strong
- Is it a real issue, with genuine controversy and uncertainty?
- Can you distinctly identify two positions?
- Are you personally interested in advocating for one of these positions?
- Is the issue narrow enough to be manageable?
There are several criteria that you can use to help you determine your position on an issue. In most cases, you can use more than one criterion to help you decide how to vote on an issue. It is important to be able to distinguish between those criteria that will best support the author’s position and those that will not.
The following are examples of some issues and criteria that might be relevant for each one:
1-Issue: Should students have to wear uniforms?
Criteria: safety/security, cost, school identity/pride, etc.
2-Issue: Should there be a dress code in our school?
Criteria: safety/security, cost of enforcing the code, etc.
3-Issue: Should there be a curfew on teens under 18?
Criteria: safety/security, parental responsibility vs. individual rights, the crime rate for teens out after curfew, etc.
Analyzing an Issue and Developing an Argument
The key to writing a good position paper is to determine where you stand on the subject being discussed. Researching both sides of an argument allows you to see where the grey areas are in your knowledge, as well as what information you feel comfortable with and what information you still need to learn about or look for counterarguments against. Asking yourself questions about your argument will help you determine how strong it is, whether or not there are any holes in it, and how it can be improved upon.
Supporting evidence includes the following:
- Factual Knowledge – Information that is verifiable and agreed upon by almost everyone.
- Statistical Inferences – Interpretation and examples of an accumulation of facts.
- Informed Opinion – Opinion developed through serious research and/or expertise of the claim.
- Personal Testimony – Personal experience related to a knowledgeable party.
Once you have made your pro and con lists, compare the information side by side.
Considering your audience, as well as your own viewpoint, choose the position you will take
In considering the audience, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your audience?
- What do they believe?
- Where do they stand on the issue?
- How are their interests involved?
- What evidence is likely to be effective with them?
In determining your viewpoint, ask yourself the following:
- Is your topic interesting?
- Can you manage the material within the specifications set by the instructor?
- Does your topic assert something specific and propose a plan of action?
- Do you have enough material to support your opinion?
Your introduction should lead up to a thesis that organizes the rest of your paper. A thesis statement is a one-sentence summary of your position. Your thesis statement may change as you write your paper, so it’s important to keep it flexible until you finalize the draft. There are three advantages to leading with the thesis:
- The audience knows where you stand.
- The thesis is located in the two strongest places, first and last.
- It is the most common form of academic argument used.
Sample Outline for a Position Paper
A. Introduce the topic
B. Provide background on the topic
C. Assert the thesis (your view of the issue)
II. Counter Argument
A. Summarize the counterclaims
B. Provide supporting information for counterclaims
C. Refute the counterclaims
D. Give evidence for the argument
III. Your Argument
A. Assert point #1 of your claims
1. Give your opinion
2. Provide support
B. Assert point #2 of your claims
1. Give your opinion
2. Provide support
C. Assert point #3 of your claims
1. Give your opinion
2. Provide support
A. Restate your argument
B. Provide a plan of action
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