What is a position paper?
A position paper is an article that presents an arguable perspective about an issue – typically that of a pre-specified entity. The goal of a position paper is to convince the audience that the opinion presented is valid and worth listening to. For delegates who want research awards or simply want to know where to concentrate their research, the best approach is the solution-focused paper.
How to write a perfect position paper?
1 – Issue Criteria
To take a side on a subject, you should 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 and confident argument:
• Is it a real issue, with genuine controversy and uncertainty?
• Can you identify at least two distinctive positions?
• Are you personally interested in advocating one of these positions?
• Is the scope of the issue narrow enough to be manageable?
2 – Analysing an Issue & 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 the pros and cons 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:
3 – Consider your Audience and Determine your Viewpoint
- Is your topic interesting?
- Does your topic assert something specific, prove it, and where applicable, propose a plan of action?
- Do you have enough material or proof to support your opinion?
Sample Outline of a Position Paper
A. Introduce the topic
B. Provide background on the topic to explain why it is important
C. Assert the thesis (your view of the issue).
Your introduction has a dual purpose: to indicate both the topic and your approach to it (your thesis statement), and to arouse interest in what you have to say.
A. Summarise the counterclaims
B. Provide supporting information for counterclaims
C. Refute the counterclaims
D. Give evidence for argument
You can generate counterarguments and consider how you will respond to them. When you are summarising opposing arguments, be charitable. Present each argument fairly and objectively. You want to show that you have seriously considered the many sides of the issue, and that you are not simply attacking or mocking your opponents.
A. Restate your argument
B. Provide a plan of action but do not introduce new information