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A Brief Guide to Writing a Position Paper

July 13, 2020
Mathieu Nayrolles

Speaking your thoughts out loud happens to be easier than doing the same in writing. Why is that so? Every time you prepare a speech, you need to write it down first. And your writing needs to be precise because readers are about to know what you’ve put down on a paper. When it comes to a position paper, your mission is to express your opinion on a controversial topic. You will have to take a side on a specific topic and make up a case based on your opinion. To succeed in this writing task, you may need some guidelines.

Guides
Position Paper

What Is Position Paper?

A position paper is a kind of essay in which you express your opinion or position regarding a particular subject matter. It can be used for different purposes, from a discussion of international challenges to an analysis of business strategies. As a result, a position paper format is widely used in business and politics. Also, it can take a form of a report revealing your plans for the subject matter at hand. A position paper should contain a smooth flow of thoughts and ideas that provide a rock-solid evidence for your line of reasoning.

What Are The 3 Parts of a Position Paper?

A position paper consists of three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Here is an explanation of what you can write in each part:

Introduction

The introductory part aims to attract the reader’s attention to the covered subject matter. Ideally, you should begin with several opening sentences about the specific issue to hook the reader.

Body

The body part involves background information, evidence to back up your opinion, and analysis of both sides of the subject matter. By conducting thorough research, you will collect enough data to support your claims. The main point is to address both aspects of the argument. That way, you will show the reader that you are objective in your statements.

Conclusion

In the conclusion part, you need to restate the key points of your essay without adding anything new. Depending on your topic, it  makes sense to suggest a solution to the problem.

How to Write a Position Paper?

To start writing a position paper, you should have a clearly stated topic that is debatable with logical details. While writing a paper, you should examine your vision of the problem through the prism of available arguments. Consider practicability, cost-effectiveness, and local environment when evaluating possible solutions and necessary actions. In other words, you should express, explain, and back up your opinion. And don’t forget to be specific in stating and supporting your arguments.

Select a Position Paper Topic

If you want to create a good position paper, you should focus on a subject matter that has enough findings to support it as well as some controversy to produce an argument. If you are dealing with a position paper assignment, you will want to skip your personal values and focus on something that can get you the highest grade. Here are some of the position paper topics to consider: 

  • Should reality TV shows be regulated?
  • What are the positive and negative sides of video gaming?
  • Are there any parallels between video gaming and addiction?
  • Can beauty contests have a positive impact on women?
  • Should children have a schedule for school and after-school activities or be given more free time for playing?
  • What affects the rapid increase in child obesity?
  • How to reduce the number of abortions without legislation?
  • How can pro-life and pro-choice groups cooperate?
  • Should the production of Barbie dolls be banned?
  • What is the meaning of true beauty?
  • Should young children be forced to compete at athletics?
  • What are the reasons for blood cancer?
  • How does COVID-19 pandemic affect the business sector?
  • Is COVID-19 a real problem or a huge fake?
  • How does COVID-19 affect our lives?
  • Should media coverage be taken under control?
  • Is private school tuition really worth it?
  • How can the country’s school system be amended?
  • What role should technology play in the business sector?
  • Should college athletes receive a salary?
  • Should college athletes be allowed to skip classes?
  • Technologies are changing the way people think.
  • How are online technologies affecting the way we live?
  • What laws should regulate the use of cell phones in cars?
  • Should parents limit teenagers’ use of social media?
  • Should scientists be allowed to experiment on human embryos?
  • What causes people to immigrate illegally?
  • Is there any way to reduce the immigration rate?
  • Can illegal immigration be justified?
  • How do people justify war?
  • How significant is race to American identity?
  • What is the world culture?
  • What is the value of knowing your cultural background?
  • Should schools teach multiculturalism?
  • Is global warming a problem?
  • Is racism the problem of the modern community?
  • How can clean water be provided to everyone?
  • Is the problem of air pollution exaggerated?
  • What needs to be done to reduce the level of air pollution?
  • Who should take responsibility for air pollution?
  • Will the worldwide population increase?
  • What needs to be done to stop poaching of endangered species?
  • Is hunting good for the environment?
  • Are citizens responsible for their local environment?
  • What can manufacturers do to reduce the air and water pollution across the world?
  • What is the real importance of clean water?
  • Is there any connection between health and pollution?
  • What can people do to stop global pollution?
  • How can people be encouraged to recycle more?
  • How does global warming increase?

Preliminary Research

How do you write a position paper? Where to start from? Preliminary research requires you to find sufficient evidence for the covered subject matter. At the same time, you don’t need to rely on a subject matter that falls apart under a challenge of hefty research. You will also need to specify the sources you are planning to use. Follow them in bibliography and make some notes about every particular book, journal, or document you take information from. Thus, you will save a lot of time in the writing process.

By searching a couple of education and social sites, you will be able to find professional research data. As you narrow your focus, you will develop a list of questions that you have to answer in your paper. If you find no valuable information after spending several hours on research, you should understand that your position cannot be supported by sufficient findings on trustworthy sites.

Challenge Your Topic and Collect Supporting Evidence

You will need to dispute the truth or validity of your topic by finding supporting evidence. If you have some doubts, you may need some time to identify all the possible challenges that you have to deal with. Your position paper will address the opposing view and address it with counterevidence. It will make sense to have some discussions with friends, colleagues, or family about the topic. That way, you will be able to learn some additional thoughts and ideas that can be used for further research. As soon as you find some counterarguments, you will need to analyze them. Once it is done, you will see whether they are sound or not.

Another useful approach to challenging the topic requires you to mention your arguments on one side and opposing arguments on the other one. In which part of the paper do you have more points collected? Which points are stronger? If counterarguments seem to outnumber your arguments, you will have to reconsider your subject matter or your opinion on it .

Position Paper Outline

Before taking action, you’ll need to develop a position paper outline to organize your thoughts and ideas. With an outline, you will find it easier to write a position paper. So how will you do that? It depends on your personal preferences. Some writers find it easier to apply pictures and diagrams, others just follow a template offered by the teacher. If you feel like writing an outline yourself from scratch, don’t hesitate to do so. You can create it on your computer or write it down in your notebook. After all, there is no right or wrong approach to developing an outline. The main point is that an outline contains all the key points that you have to add to your position paper. You may want to look at a position paper sample before starting the writing process. Here is the format to be followed:

Decide on your topic with some background details. Develop a thesis sentence that addresses your position. Some examples are as follows:

  • Smoking is a bad habit causing breathing problems.
  • Fast food packages should be marked with health warnings .
  • Air pollution requires certain actions from the national governments.

Decide on potential contradictions to your position. Here are some examples: :

  • A medical examination needs to be conducted on an annual basis to monitor the possible negative health conditions .
  • Health warnings  can affect the companies’ revenues.
  • The national program can be quite costly.

Cover the opposing points. Make sure that you aren’t contradicting your own thoughts and ideas. Sample points are as follows:

  • It can be hard to determine the monitoring process.
  • Citizens don’t want their government to abuse its power.
  • Program funding will fall on the shoulders of average taxpayers.

Explain your position through the prism of counterarguments. This is how you can contradict some of the counterarguments and back up your own one. Sample points are as follows:

  • The government has already tried to reduce smoking statistics in the country.
  • Restaurants will enhance the quality of food in case of using health warnings .
  • The government’s primary role is to protect citizens.

Sum up your arguments and express your opinion in different words. You should finish your paper by focusing on your arguments and responding to the counterarguments. You need your reader to understand and accept your opinion on the covered subject matter.

When you create a position paper, you should act with confidence. In the end, your mission is to reveal your position from the best side.

Tips on Writing a Position Paper from Our Experts

Even if you have a position paper example, you still may need some practical recommendations to make things easier for you. Here are some tips you need to follow during the writing process:

  • Decide on a topic. While choosing the topic for discussion, you should find the one you have a clear idea of. You can broaden your outlook by reading some literature on the desired subject matter. Ideally, you should embark on different  viewpoints to consider them for further analysis.
  • Express your position idea. Focus on one specific aspect of the topic in order to express it in a one-sentence opinion. Make sure you have found a really arguable idea. If the topic cannot be debated, then it can hardly be used for writing a good position paper.
  • Be precise in your statement. Try to express your opinion briefly and clearly.  A position paper is not meant to be vague.
  • Lead the narrative in the present tense. You are discussing the topic here and now, so the use of the past tense is quite inappropriate.
  • Minimize the use of superlatives. Avoid using superlatives such as biggest, major, extremely, and so on because they make the context sound exaggerated.
  • Use frequently used terms. To make the content look appealing and well-written , you should use the most common thematic terms such as world community, member states, recommendations, development, realization, regulations, international, and so on.
  • Use commonly used verbs. You should include some commonly used verbs such as comprehend, enable, recognize, acknowledge, believe, suggest, consider, addresse, highlight, and so on.
  • Proceed with final proofreading. You cannot consider your position paper as completed unless a successful spelling and grammar check is done. To achieve the maximum result, you should read your paper aloud a couple of times. That way, you will find it easier to indicate and fix mistakes.

While there is no universal formula for writing a perfect position paper, you can still follow some simple tips that’ll  make you closer to the desired result. Just think analytically and act logically throughout the writing process.

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