How to Write a Position Paper
The purpose of a position paper is to
generate support on an issue. It describes a position on an issue and the
rational for that position. The position paper is based on facts that provide a
solid foundation for your argument. In the position paper you should:
• Use evidence to
support your position, such as statistical evidence or dates and events.
• Validate your
position with authoritative references or primary source quotations.
• Examine the
strengths and weaknesses of your position.
• Evaluate possible
solutions and suggest courses of action.
Choose an issue where there is a clear
division of opinion and which is arguable with facts and inductive reasoning.
You may choose an issue on which you have already formed an opinion. However,
in writing about this issue you must examine your opinion of the issue
critically. Prior to writing your position paper, define and limit your issue
carefully. Social issues are complex with multiple solutions. Narrow the topic
of your position paper to something that is manageable. Research your issue
thoroughly, consulting experts and obtaining primary documents. Consider
feasibility, cost-effectiveness and political/social climate when evaluating
possible solutions and courses of action. The following structure is typical of
a position paper:
• An introduction
• Identification of
• Statement of the
• The body
• Supporting evidence
• A discussion of
both sides of the issue
• A conclusion
• Suggested courses
• Possible solutions
The introductionshould clearly
identify the issue and state the author’s position. It should be written in a
way that catches the reader’s attention.
The bodyof the position paper may
contain several paragraphs. Each paragraph should present an idea or main
concept that clarifies a portion of the position statement and is supported by
evidence or facts. Evidence can be primary source quotations, statistical data,
interviews with experts, and indisputable dates or events. Evidence should
lead, through inductive reasoning, to the main concept or idea presented in the
paragraph. The body may begin with some background information and should
incorporate a discussion of both sides of the issue.
The conclusionshould summarize the
main concepts and ideas and reinforce, without repeating, the introduction or
body of the paper. It could include suggested courses of action and possible