Writing a position paper is akin to writing an objective research paper that considers either side of an argument based on facts.
A position paper focuses on controversial issues by exploring an aspect of an argument, presenting valuable insights into interpreting the problems, and coming up with recommendations to solve them.
To write a strong position paper that scores excellent grades, you must choose a good topic, align with a position, develop arguments, draft the paper, and polish it well before submitting it for grading.
In this guide, our expert paper writers at GradeCrest share tips, insights, and details about how to write an excellent position paper.
Like an opinion essay, a position paper is an essay that presents an arguable opinion about a topic or an issue. The main goal of a position paper is to convince the readers (audience) that the author's argument is valid and worth consideration. The author picks a view on a specific topic and uses evidence and facts to support their stance, just like in a persuasive essay.
Like an objective research paper, an academic position paper draws from evidence, data, statistics, and facts, enabling the authors to take an evidence-based position by presenting an arguable opinion about the issue or problem in question. It is similar to an argument paper or a debate supporting one side of an issue.
When writing a position paper, you are expected to convince the audience that your opinion is valid and worth listening to, even if there are other potentially viable positions. It is an impartial paper that addresses both sides of an issue and persuades the audience that you have well-founded knowledge on the topic.
Although position papers might be assigned in high school and college, professionals in many industries also write them as part of their daily duties.
In college, the intention is to achieve what is set in the assignment prompt/instructions. However, for professional purposes, the point of focus is on matters relating to the industry and sometimes an entire country.
You are likely to write a position paper if you practice in healthcare, nursing, scientific research, public policy, education, economics, political sciences, international relations, and law, among others. In that case, the format differs because you have to include an abstract, background, position, conclusion and recommendations, appendices, and bibliography sections.
The overarching goal of a position paper is to generate support for an issue. It vividly describes the author's position on a problem and the rationale for the position based on facts that offer a solid foundation for the arguments and counterarguments. It entails inductive reasoning and the use of facts to critically examine a position to expose the strengths and weaknesses of the opinion of the author.
Position papers are usually short documents stating an organization's policy, position, or philosophy regarding a subject. It can also be an issue brief where you pose a problem or question and answer it by giving information or coming up with a proposed solution.
It is a paper created to transfer knowledge and enable the readers to understand a specific topic or issue. Position papers also provide critical information that can help in decision-making. They are also an excellent tool for professionals to present their perspectives on pertinent issues in the industry.
A position paper explains the conclusions or findings resulting from research collaborations, design and development efforts, or insights by an organized committee.
A policy position paper helps implement a procedure or policy in government and can also help build consensus and come up with solutions. Companies and corporations use position papers to share their ideologies, beliefs, stance, and recommendations.
A comprehensive position paper has an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Since it is a one-page document, these three sections must be brief, clear, concise, and succinct. There is no room for wasting words when you only have a limited word count.
Although the structure of a position paper might be flexible, it should convey the problem and the author's position. The author's background, relevance, and position must be clear.
When writing the position paper, ensure that you address the critical components of the issue. Besides, you should present it in a palatable manner to the audience.
The introduction paragraph of a position paper is a critical part of the assignment. It identifies the issue you are about to discuss in the paper and clearly states your position on the issue through your thesis statement.
It is vital to grab the readers' attention using a relevant hook statement. You can use a fact or statistic to draw the readers' attention. For example, if you are writing a position paper on microplastics, you can present facts about the number of organisms affected by microplastics in oceans.
Besides, the introduction should give a proper background of your topic, showing your readers why they need to focus on it. Wrap up the opening by including a thesis statement and, if possible, signpost the ideas the reader should expect in the rest of your paper.
The body section of your paper contains the central arguments and counterarguments, claims and counterclaims, examples, and supporting facts to support your position while looking at other potential positions. This means you must present a discussion of both sides of the issue that addresses your position and refute those that contradict your position.
It should have at least three paragraphs that are well-balanced, organized, and flow into one another. Every section should contain a topic sentence, supporting details, and a concluding sentence. Ensure that the topic sentence, like a mini-thesis, only focuses on one issue or idea that relates to the thesis statement. Use good, valid, relevant quotes, evidence, facts, and real-life examples to support your arguments or views.
When introducing opposing ideas to show your maturity in reasoning, ensure that you optimize the arguments and refute them to make room for acceptance of your position by the readers.
To craft an amazing body for a position paper, look at the model position papers published by different institutions of higher learning for inspiration. These examples can help you format and frame your arguments, organize your essay, and present your points logically.
At least have 2-3 main arguments that assert your position and relate to your thesis with relevant supporting details. At the same time, give room for counterarguments and have information that refutes the counterargument.
Ensure that each paragraph is indented well and that there is a clear transition from one to the other. Besides, your choice of words should be meticulous. Use powerful academic words and phrases to show that you understand your craft.
The conclusion paragraph of your position paper should offer closure for your readers. Having presented facts, it is now time to summarize the main points. You should restate your thesis by rephrasing it in different words but with the same meaning. Wind the paper by suggesting solutions or making recommendations.
A position paper is like an argument paper or a debate where you pick a side on an issue and gather facts, evidence, and information to present a convincing argument that your position is the correct stance.
Reading the assignment instructions before beginning to plan and write your academic position paper is a no-brainer.
The instructions have guidelines that you must follow to the T. besides, you will also know the format to use, citation style to incorporate, and the number of words or pages to include in the paper. Some professors also give a list of topics or hints of what topics to select for the specific assignment.
Apart from the prompt, you might also get the assessment criteria as a rubric. Go through it to determine what your instructor wants to see.
Comprehending the instructions will help you write a position paper that is compelling, clear, concise, and complete. It is good to read them as you take notes to piece everything together and earn full marks or score the best grade.
After reading the instructions, the next step is to select a suitable position paper topic. You can select from the list your professor has suggested or choose one that meets the criteria outlined in the paper prompt. Selecting a good topic for the position paper is as essential as having a good structure with solid arguments and well-presented counterarguments.
If you are selecting a topic on your own, ensure that it has a multisided issue. Ensure that the topic is controversial and has at least two clear sides, with one side being the most agreeable to most people. To meet these criteria, you will need to do some rough search (preliminary research) to find a suitable position paper topic that:
Such a topic will help you build a solid case for your argument and convince your readers that your position is defendable and valid. Remember, as you would in an argumentative essay, you will include supporting evidence for both sides, then refute the conflicting arguments.
For instance, you don't have to write about children requiring close parental guidance, as nobody would disagree.
A good topic could be Children aged nine years (preteens) and teenagers who need to get mandatory HPV vaccines to prevent them from HPV infections that could expose them to cancers in later years of life.
You can also take a stance on the actions that should be taken against parents who abandon their children. It could also be a position paper on climate change, focusing on global warming, overpopulation, industrialization, or wildfires.
As you select the topic, consider a manageable topic in terms of finding related scholarly resources because you will need facts and evidence anyway. Don't focus on topics related to your values. Instead, to succeed in a position paper assignment, get a topic you can explore for an excellent grade.
With the topic secured, some professors will request that you send it for approval. If that is the case, ensure they have given you the go-ahead to use the topic for your position paper.
Brainstorming occurs almost constantly, but it does so more when you read new information. You can draw mind maps, concept maps, or flow charts to represent the ideas that come to mind as you try to comprehend the direction of the topic. You can also take short notes to record any ideas that you generate.
As you brainstorm, you can also use the freewriting technique to have as many ideas as possible. At this point, no thought can be underestimated.
Even the idea that seems farfetched can be developed into solid arguments, provided you can find substantial evidence and facts to support it. If frameworks, concepts, vocabulary, or keywords are challenging, try to simplify and comprehend them better.
By thinking outside the box, you are determined and prepared to write a position paper that will wow your professor. Please do not skip this step; it is integral to your writing process.
From the brainstorming, you can already connect the dots about the topic. The next step is to optimize your understanding through in-depth research.
For your research, check on the primary and secondary sources to understand the facts, evidence, and stance on the topic. Consider the background information, reasons behind every argument or side, and recent developments on the topic.
You can then narrow down the process to pros and cons list of the two major positions to choose good arguments when writing the paper. As you read, think about your perspectives on the issue. Sometimes, you might have strong views about a topic, which can help you choose a position. You can list your opinions and see if they are valid reasons to include in the position paper.
When considering your views, also try to evaluate the potential views of the audience on the topic. The audience matters the most because their perception of the topic determines how they will receive your paper. If it is a class assignment, consider the views of your instructor.
And if it is a policy paper, localize the issue and consider a wider worldview if you are writing for an international audience. If you cannot tweak your stance to suit the audience, address the reasons behind your position or counterargument to cater to their curiosity and concerns.
It would be best if you focused more on research that supports your lens, position, or perspective. Take notes and organize the sources because you will use them as evidence and supporting facts when drafting your position paper. Identify and manage the evidence you will use to support your arguments. If you prefer writing, you can use index cards to record your citations or ty
With the research done and the sources organized, you would want to build your argument, which is your voice in the position paper. Come up with a claim, which is your position on the topic you will defend in the paper. Base the claim on facts and evidence. Identify 2-3 of your strongest supporting reasons for your claim for a shorter paper and even more for a longer paper. The supporting reasons should be from the evidence you gathered.
It would be prudent to identify the counterargument you can easily dismiss. A counterargument should strengthen your claim, showing the reader that you have considered the other side before taking a stance. An example of a counterargument is "dams should not be built because they chock the life of rivers leading to damage to the environment, habitats, and local economies." You should, at the same time, find credible, reliable, and valid evidence that supports the counterargument.
It would be wise to let your argument and counterarguments feature in your thesis. For example, suppose you are talking about the dangers of dams. In that case, your thesis could read: "Even though dams help control waterways, irrigate the land, and conserve water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural use, they risk sedimentation and thus a potential source of disaster and a destruction of water ecology."
With the thesis formulated, your main arguments, and the counterargument set, you need to plan your position paper. Creating a position paper outline helps to envision what to expect in the end. The outline should include the main arguments in each body paragraph and what to include in the introduction and conclusion.
Proper planning and outlining help you estimate the number of words for each section. Therefore, you can make decisions on how to approach your paper. Besides, it also helps you fight writer's block because all there is left after it is to write the paper.
If you have the outline, you can begin writing in whatever format pleases you. Some people prefer writing logically from the introduction to the conclusion, and others prefer to do it randomly, starting with the body paragraphs, then the introduction, and finalizing with the conclusion. Whichever way works for you, choose it.
The introduction of a position paper begins with a hook or attention grabber, which can be a statistic, fact, or statement that makes a person see the value of your paper. You should include a few sentences introducing the topic and narrow it down to your stance. The last part of the introduction should be your thesis, which should consist of a claim and be original, arguable, clear, and concise.
As for the body, including at least two paragraphs for a short position paper: one for the counterargument and another for the main arguments that support your stance. If you are writing a standard position paper, you will need 3 or 4 body paragraphs, with at least one being for the counterargument.
When writing the body paragraphs, the topic sentences should be your mini-theses. They should back the thesis and control or predict what the reader expects in the paragraph. They should be followed by supporting evidence such as facts, quotes, statistics, or documented stories.
You should also include a commentary to expound on the evidence to show how it supports or refutes your position and link the evidence to the thesis. As part of the paragraphs, include a closing sentence that reasserts your position in the paragraph and transitions to the next paragraph.
Finally, write the conclusion of your paper. Restate the thesis or claim (position) to make it stronger and explain why it is the correct stance. You should then summarize your argument and briefly dismiss the counterargument. As it is a position paper, you can end with a call to action. Writing entails filling out the outline. And when writing, focus on writing first.
Because you focused too much on writing, chances are that you made errors, mistakes, and omissions. You must write the final draft that meets the rubric requirements and answers the assignment prompt.
Begin by checking the in-text citations and the general format of your paper. If you were writing the paper in APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, or Turabian, ensure that the spacing, indentation, margins, fonts, and other aspects align with the style requirements. Ensure that you set the paper in double-spacing. To the least, the best position paper should match the writing levels of a master's level essay, which means everything should be perfect.
You should polish your paper well, including checking for the similarity score. It is higher; try to reduce it through simple strategies like paraphrasing, rewriting, or rephrasing to lessen the similarity levels or plagiarism in a paper.
You can use spell-check tools in your word processor to check if everything is fine. After checking for spelling and plagiarism, run the paper through an editing tool to correct the mistakes, errors, and omissions. Check whether the punctuations, choice, and use of words, language, voice, and tenses are correct. Remember, there is no use of first-person pronouns such as I in a position paper. It should be as objective as it can be.
You can then take a break and resume reading the essay objectively to spot and correct mistakes before submitting. Revise the paper sufficiently to ensure that anything unclear is clarified and that you do not exceed the word count limit. Proofread the paper and make final edits so that the paper is 100% perfect. Insert the works cited, reference, or bibliography section and recheck the format. Submit the paper via the preferred channels such as Turnitin, Canvas, Blackboard, SafeAssign, or Dropbox.
Watch this video to get further the points we have widely discussed.
If you are looking for a place to get some ideas to build your position paper, below are some suggestions you can select and write about.
A position paper is a dreaded assignment by students and professionals alike. However, it is an assignment like any other, and it should argue why your chosen stance or point of view is valid or worth defense compared to different viewpoints. To write an excellent position paper, ensure that you stay focused on your claim and provide proper evidence to support the claim. Besides, your ending should have a call to action that suggests a solution.
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Pssst! Please check the FAQ section for questions that we get often.
For us to do a comprehensive guide on writing a position paper, we have heeded the call of many. Often, we get consulted by those who need model papers or original samples for their topics, and here are some questions we get. We have tried to answer them so that you can get a rough idea of facts about position statements that could be bothering you.
A typical position paper should be a one-page document. However, every instructor, department, or institution will have its unique preference on the appropriate length to attain. Since it has an introduction, a series of body paragraphs and a conclusion, writing at least 3-4 double-spaced pages (not counting title or reference/bibliography pages) suffices as the best length as it allows you to comprehensively address either side of the issue using facts, evidence, and information. It should at least have 1000 words so that your position and arguments are clear, elaborate, and supported by relevant in-text citations from scholarly sources.
A good position paper comprehensively breaks down the position into arguments and supporting facts. It should also make proposals and recommendations for solutions. Besides, it should contain the following:
Unless it is a professional position paper, an academic position paper follows the typical format of a comprehensive essay. Therefore, an abstract is not necessary in this case. If you are writing a professional position statement, include an abstract and appendices as necessary.
A Model UN (MUN) position paper, a policy paper, is a strategic document where the author (s) present an overview of the delegate's country position. It bears three parts:
You can learn more about MUN position papers by looking at resources online and looking for sample position papers for inspiration.
A position paper focuses on a topic to persuade the readers that your position on the topic or issue is the best-given evidence, real-life examples, statistics, data, or information. On the other hand, a research paper is like a literature review on a topic where you weigh in on the opinions of scholars on a given topic, summarize these positions, and address an issue, potentially without taking sides unless it is an objective research paper. Scientific research papers are also written in the IMRAD format, usually following a study or experimentation.