Position Paper

 Position Paper

For a printable copy: click here: Position Paper


Your paper will be a “Position Paper,” in which you state your own opinions on the topic you have been studying all semester and try to persuade your readers that you are right. Your paper will be a maximum of 6 pages long and have a minimum of 8 sources. In this paper, you will state your position on the issue as it concerns local and national events. In addition, you will receive bonus points equaling 1/3 of a grade (from B+ – A- ; an A- – A, etc.) if you reveal some information/research about how the issue affects another country. Your 8 sources must include: (1) at least two articles from a print source, such as a newspaper or magazine, including the New York Times, (2) at least one article from an Internet source, (3) at least 1 source from an interview, and (4) at least one source will be the film you watched.


Your topic/issue should be one about which you have a definite opinion and about which you know a significant about of knowledge. In this paper, you need to argue a specific viewpoint, using your own opinions, values, and personal experiences as evidence to support your position. This paper is interpretive and should be written in an informal, yet professional, first person style. You may use the word “I” in the paper, but do it sparingly.

 The paper needs to be well organized, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion.


Guidelines for the Position Paper

 Your tone and style on this paper is most important. You will need to keep your emotions about the topic in check. The paper MUST be well-thought out, be logical and reasonable with EVERY opinion backed up by evidence. It might help you to think of your audience as your mother or church leader. You would not yell, sound angry or belligerent, whiny in explaining your ideas to either of them. Imagine, for instance, that your mom has said, “I see that you have been studying such and such an issue all semester. What do you think about it?” You would not yell your answer at her. You would POLITELY, yet convincingly explain why you think the way you do. You will be graded heavily on your tone of voice in this paper. Keep cool!

 Don’t slide into complaining and moaning. Instead, carefully decide which appeals—ethos, logos, pathos—will best convince your audience? Be specific in your evidence in support of your ideas. Use details, details, details. Don’t slip into generalities.  Keep a clear organizational strategy. Be sure to have an introduction that interests the reader and a conclusion that helps the reader understand your recommendations.

Show that you understand the opposing views. Relate what the opposition believes and then show how and why they are wrong.

In order to include state-nation-global features of your issue you might wonder how can it be done. If you were writing about the disappearance of the eagle in Arizona, you could research the whale off the coast of Alaska (national) and then the cheetah in Africa (global). Or, on the other hand, if your topic included the immigration issue in Arizona, you might examine it in relation to Cubans entering Florida or Chinese entering Hawaii. Then on the Global level, you might see what is happening with Africans coming into France, etc.


  • Invention: Re-read the information you have collected over the semester about a political/social issue. Decide how you personally think about the issue. Locate sources that oppose your position. Locate sources that support your position.


  • Remember, in your final paper, one of the articles must come from the New York Times. The other article must come from a local newspaper, i.e. Arizona Republic, or a popular magazine, such as Newsweek, Time, Business News (look in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature to locate an article), and the third source will be from an interview or survey.


  • The interview should be applicable to your topic—you have to cite it in your paper.


  • DO NOT USE GENERAL ENCYCLOPEDIA ARTICLES.  This includes Wikipedia. This rule applies to ALL essays this semester.


  • Audience: You are writing to a cousin, student, or other relative who lives outside of Arizona. Or choose to write to your mother or church leader in order to keep your voice COOL! This person does NOT agree with you and may NEVER agree with you, but you want them to continue to have a good, loving, sepsecting opinion of you. Be cool.


  • You want to express your opinion that is backed up by research. You also want to show opposing views and why you think they are wrong.


  • Arrangement: For this paper, you MUST use the Classical Oration format. YOU MUST ALSO HAVE AN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY THAT IS APPROXIMATELY ¼ THE LENGTH OF THE PAPER (I.E. ) 1 ½ OF THE LENGTH OF THE PAPER. This makes your total pages 8-9.
    • 1 ½ = Executive Summary
    • 6 = Paper
    • 1 = Bibliography/Works Cited
    • 8-9 Total pages


  • Style :Individually write a six (6) page, persuasive, well-supported coolly logical paper. Write in a personal/ informal, but not casual style.


  • Tone: Professional, persuasive without offensiveness


  • Revision: RE-invention, RE-arrangement, RE-style: Conduct peer review sessions and revise your drafts.


  • Delivery: Turn in the paper with the best appearance you are capable of producing.  (Follow guidelines given in the syllabus and in class).


The paper will be two (6) pages long.  It will not be shorter nor longer than those six pages. Check your syllabus for proper formatting of the paper.  In the paper, you will draw on at least eight (8) sources. Your Reference (Works Cited) page should be on a 7th page.  Document your sources by following the guidelines of MLA or APA style manuals.

Place your paper in a three-hole paper binder.  Behind your paper, place all drafts and invention and arrangement documents. Behind the invention material, place the photocopies of the articles you actually cited (not all those you collected) in your papers.

Features to keep in mind


  1. Have a clear thesis, stated in the opening paragraph.
  2. Use persuasive techniques described in Writing Today  and in the week’s class discussioins.
  3. Organize for effective persuasion.
  4. Give specific evidence in the form of statistics, facts, personal examples, real events from the world, etc.
  5. Use transitions to tie each paragraph back to the preceding paragraphs and to the thesis statement.
  6. Conclude with a call to action.


Position Paper Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do use headings to separate the main parts of your paper. 
  • Do use the Classical Oration format. 
  • Do not label the headings with the Latin Classical Terms. 
  • Do keep a professional tone. Don’t have enthusiasm, excitement, sarcasm, anger in your voice. 
  • Don’t have a solution that costs money. 
  • ……unless you state a viable, researched plan for providing that money. 
  • Don’t claim that your idea will improve citizen morale. 
  • ……unless you have researched data as evidence to support your claim. 
  • Don’t use the word “moral” when you mean “morale”. 
  • Do present and solve a problem for the state/country/world. Do convince your audience that there is a problem. Do convince your readers that you have a solution and that it will work. 
  • Don’t present a problem without backing it up with data and research as evidence that it is a problem. What are its consequences? How does it negatively affect the state/country/world’s goals?
  •  Don’t offer a solution without backing it up with data and research as evidence that it will actually work. How will it positively affect the state/country/world’s goals?


  • Do use research to back up both the problem and solution. Comparisons with competitive solutions is sometimes convincing research.
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