Position Paper FormatA 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. I

Position Paper Format

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: 

  • Is it a real issue, with genuine controversy and        uncertainty? 
  • Can you distinctly identify two positions? 
  • Are you personally interested in advocating one of        these positions? 
  • Is the issue narrow enough to be manageable? 

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: 

  • 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 research and/or expertise        of the claim. 
  • Personal Testimony – Personal experience related by 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?         
  • 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 format 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 

You will need at least three sources for your argument, in the argument section, but the more the better. Sources cited other sections are useful, but do not count towards the required 3. 

Position papers are to be two pages, single-spaced following the format above. Additionally, you should have a separate page for references in APA format, single-spaced.

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