How to Write a Position Paper
Sometimes you might need to write a position paper as part of your academic or professional requirement. Chances are that most of you might have never heard about the position paper in your life. Even if you heard about it before, chances are you might have seldom got an opportunity to write one in your academic life. This article explains what a position paper is, where it is used and how to write an outstanding paper.
Quite often students studying in high school and college are asked to write a position paper on some particular topic or issue. The aim of such exercise is to assess the student’s level of competence in assimilating, analyzing, processing and presenting the data and information in a nice and comprehensible manner. Your professor wants to see how much you have understood a particular topic or issue. They also want to see whether or not you have understood both sides of the issue or you are just sticking to one particular side. Finally, they want to see how well you have understood pros and cons of these two sides and how well you have argued for the stronger side in your position paper. Not only at school and college, but you might also be asked to write a position paper in your company or organization. So, it is not just that position papers are meant only for high school and college students. Anyone can be asked to write it, so it’s imperative that you know how to develop it properly.
What is a position paper?
A position paper is an essay that resembles an argumentative essay closely. Here you put a topic, which might be controversial in nature and then try to explain both sides of the topic to your audience. After you have explained your point, you should argue for one of the sides, which according to you is far better and justified than the other one. So, essentially, you are picking a topic that is often controversial in nature, explain both sides and then argue for one of them in support. In doing so, you convey to your audience why the other side is not worth supporting or arguing. Remember, you are not just expressing your own opinion for one particular side or issue; you are elaborating on both sides/issues and then emphasizing why one of them is better than the other. You should be using your own analysis and justification for sticking to one of the sides. It is ultimately you, the student, who has to decide and explain which of them is better, as you cannot stick to both sides or issues at the same time. In doing so, you need to use your reasoning in a logical manner supporting your claims with factual evidence to justify your stand. By reading your paper, your target audience should agree with your stand and claim; hence, it is imperative that you use solid reasoning and logic to make your claim. One important thing to keep in mind while writing your position paper is that you must be able to argue, both for and against the topic or issue in an effective and rationale manner. Once you have developed this skill, it would be a useful asset for the rest of your life, as you can position your case effectively in any given situation or scenario. This is the basic structure of any position paper. The following steps will guide you in writing a good position paper in a better way.
How to write a position paper: basic steps
- Make a small introduction about a topic or issue that you are going to address in your paper. By reading an introduction, your audience should be able to see your topic or issue and your stand on it.
- After the introduction you need to make a summary of one of the sides identified in the topic or issue.
- After you have presented the summary for one of the sides, you now need to summarize the other side of the issue or topic.
- Now that you have outlined the key points from both sides of the topic/issue, you need to present limitations, shortcomings, drawbacks and negative traits about one of the sides. You need to be careful in selecting the weaker side, as sometimes, a seemingly weaker side might be a better option from two given choices. So you need to use your logic and mind in arriving at your decision to choose the weaker side. A careful analysis and evaluation is very important here, as there is a chance to make an error. But if you keep your eyes open and approach it with an open mind, you would easily be able to distinguish between the stronger/better side and the weaker side for the given topic or issue.
- After you have addressed flaws and limitations of the weaker side, you now need to elaborate on your chosen side. You should be rational and logical in justifying and arguing for it, as quite often students tend to get carried away with their version of the story. You need to use factual data and solid proof in making your case. You need to prove to your audience why the chosen side is better out of the two and why it is stronger than the other one. For this you need proper and valid evidence that would be able to convince your audience. This is because weak evidence will weaken your argument and will ultimately make your paper worse. So you need to be very careful on what you say and how you say.
- Finally, when you have argued and presented your side, you need to write a good conclusion that summarizes your findings and claims in the end.
If you follow the above instructions, you will be in a better position to write a good position paper for both academic and non-academic purposes.
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