How to Write a Position Paper to Be Proud of It

The position paper is a piece of academic writing which is usually prepared for various media events or mass media outlets. Submitted by each delegation, it should outline a particular country or institution’s views and policies concerning a certain issue. Knowing how to write a position paper properly is an easy way to ensure a logical structure and background for any ideas your organization or country intends to share with the target audience. However, as you can see, this paper requires one to not only have specific knowledge and conduct thorough preparation but also show that they are responsible individuals because they’ve been chosen to represent their organization. That is why some extensive research on positional paper should be conducted to specify all the details and peculiarities that will save you from making mistakes.

What Is a Position Paper and How Does It Work?

It may turn out to be quite a challenge to prepare a quality position paper unless you understand exactly what it is you are dealing with. Let’s start with a position paper definition. As mentioned above, this piece of academic writing is an essential part of any serious conference, because it familiarizes its participants with the direction debate will take. The position paper for conferences is to be prepared one month in advance so that all the participants have enough time to familiarize themselves with it and understand its main points. The position paper isn't just your opinion - it supports an argument and uses evidence to back it up. There are situations when the position paper isn’t required but try not to neglect it, because the purpose of a position paper is not only to let the audience know about your ideas and central policies but also help you organize your research.

Overview of the Position Paper Structure: Understanding the Basics

Since the position paper is a quite challenging task and one that requires one to invest a lot of time into its preparation, it is clear that this type of paper should be organized correctly. Fortunately, the position paper doesn’t differ a lot from any other academic paper. But then, what is the structure of a position paper? What are the peculiarities one should know about? A good position paper should focus on the following aspects:

  • Overview of your or your organization’s work in the context of the topic and audience;
  • The way in which the issue discussed has an impact on your institution or policies;
  • Your key points concerning the issue;
  • Suggesting ways of solving the issue
  • The way your position may affect the position of other participants.

To achieve all of the above, you are to follow the commonly used structure of a position paper that works for almost any kind of academic paper:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  3. Conclusions

In the case with the position paper, each of the components has several peculiarities which distinguish it from many other paper types. Therefore, even if you know how to start a position paper and how to finish it, there are things about the body part that you should keep in mind at all times.

Containing a minimum of three paragraphs, the body part can be thought of as a foundation for your entire paper. Each of these paragraphs is to present an argument that supports your viewpoint. Here, your task is not to describe your idea (even if you are going to do it in a very detailed way), but to prove it using various evidence, such as quotations, reports, statistics or other data from reliable sources. Except for the main statement, you should also include an opposing viewpoint, the purpose of which is to make your statement more confident and stronger. Try to answer all possible provocative questions in advance and see if there are any weak spots in your statement. Make sure that your body part includes the argument, as well as supporting evidence from the sources you are to mention below.

Position Paper Format Essentials

The main requirement for the position paper is that it must be typed (usually it’s 12 point font and 1-inch margins) and contain a list of used sources aka bibliography. The most common position paper format is the business memorandum that implies narrative form and includes major statements at the very beginning of the paper. In case you have more than one issue to explore in the position paper, you should write each of them separately. But there can be situations when the format of your paper is entirely different from the typical model. Everything depends on the requirements of your professor, target audience or circumstances under which the communicative situation takes place. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you consult with your professor or study the requirements you’ve received, before writing a position paper. Let’s check out some useful tips that may help you make your paper easier to perceive:

  • Keep your work simple but official. It will be hard for your audience to understand a bunch of terms or redundant information.
  • Be careful citing your sources. Be honest and provide your readers with reliable information.
  • Read and proofread. It is necessary to occasionally re-read your work to ensure its adequacy.
  • Go easy on details. Try not to include too many details and brief overviews. Try to strike a happy medium.

Position Paper Outline

Now that you know all the essential features of the position paper let’s create a sample outline to give you some idea of what it looks like and how to make it more understandable.

  • Introduction
  1. State the main issue
  2. Describe your central viewpoint
  • Body Part
  1. Argument #1 and sources of its evidence (usually 2)
  2. Argument #2 and sources of its evidence
  3. Argument #3 (optional, could be more)..
  • Counterargument
  1. References to reliable evidence
  2. Refuting opposite viewpoints and answering provocative questions
  • Conclusion
  1. Restating the key points of the paper
  2. Emphasizing your point

As you can see, the position paper outline isn’t as difficult as it may seem initially.

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