Writing a Position Paper

A position paper presents an arguable opinion about an issue. The goal of a position paper is to convince the audience that your opinion is valid and worth listening to. Ideas that you are considering need to be carefully examined in choosing a topic, developing your argument, and organizing your paper. It is very important to ensure that you are addressing all sides of the issue and presenting it in a manner that is easy for your audience to understand. Your job is to take one side of the argument and persuade your audience that you have well-founded knowledge of the topic being presented. It is important to support your argument with evidence to ensure the validity of your claims, as well as to address the counterclaims to show that you are well informed about both sides.

Issue Criteria

To take a side on a subject, you should first establish the arguability of a topic that interests you. Ask yourself the following questions to ensure that you will be able to present a strong argument:

Analyzing an Issue and Developing an Argument

Once your topic is selected, you should do some research on the subject matter. While you may already have an opinion on your topic and an idea about which side of the argument you want to take, you need to ensure that your position is well supported. Listing out the pro and con sides of the topic will help you examine your ability to support your counterclaims, along with a list of supporting evidence for both sides. Supporting evidence includes the following:

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:

In determining your viewpoint, ask yourself the following:

Organization

Your introduction should lead up to a thesis that organizes the rest of your paper. There are three advantages to leading with the thesis:

1. The audience knows where you stand.

2. The thesis is located in the two strongest places, first and last.

3. It is the most common form of academic argument used.

 

Below is a generic sample outline for a position paper:

 

I. Introduction

 

___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 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

 

IV. Conclusion

 

___A. Restate your argument

 

___B. Provide a plan of action

 

Courtesy of UHWO Writing Center

(c)1998