Nov 17, 2020

How to Write a Position Paper?

How can you write a situation paper and what makes it different from every other essay or research project? Essentially, when tasked with writing a position paper the objective is always to pick a side of an often contentious debate, after which present a case. This is often done using different kinds of evidence and source materials. In this guide, we shall explain the nuances of a position paper, outline its three core parts and describe just how to tie these together in to a whole piece. We will also discuss just how to select topics for a situation paper, the value of research, and just how to challenge differing perspectives on the topic whilst collecting evidence to support your claims.

What Is a Position Paper?

Position papers in many cases are used in government and what industry? Nevertheless , the most popular form of position paper you may be knowledgeable about is a simple letter to the editor. These texts, depending on the status of the newspaper, can come from laypeople or individuals with significant professional interest and will act as still another form of feedback on reporting which has already taken place.

In academic circles, position papers certainly are a step-down from double-blind peer-reviewed articles, the particular role that is to offer an avenue for discovery on topics considered novel, emerging, or ubiquitous at any given time.

Governance, whether political or corporate, has many uses for position papers. For example , political bodies including the Model Un and europe use position papers to produce channels of discussion, debate, and to maintain a record of opinion on current affairs for posterity and policy-making.

You might be familiar with the terms ‘green paper’ and ‘white paper’. The distinction between them lies in that position papers will generally not extend to setting up concrete perspectives or explicit solutions. White papers generally have more complexity and weight, green papers are a colloquial British version of a white paper.

In a nutshell, a position paper is a method for organisations, individuals and other entities to express initial opinions on evolving subjects or news.

What Are The 3 Parts of a Position Paper?


The introduction to the topic requires providing basic background information. First, sketch the large picture. This will be done in ways which accumulates to your thesis sentence and which sets out the position you are likely to argue. Usually do not broach the primary point of the opposition view at this time.


The human body of the paper is for unpacking and expanding the topic along with your position. Providing further back ground information to that particular given in the introduction should come first. Use facts, statistics and quotations to frame the issue and its particular significance to the reader.

Then re-state your role, and this time use evidence and source materials to back up your assertions. When it comes to evidence, you do not have to make your own through experiments, even though instances could easily arise if you were, say, a company active in the production of medicines. Ergo, a position paper may also behave as a preliminary method to share data currently perhaps not in people realm.

Dilemmas are very rarely clear cut into grayscale. Even if the opposition side is deplorable, your want to eviscerate alternative and opposing perspectives must certanly be expressed by refuting the central and underlying points of the arguments. Nevertheless , emotion and affect are tools which are more welcome in a position paper than a peer-reviewed article or government white-paper. There is scope and time here to publish in a way which appeals to emotion.

After the counter-argument has been refuted, make sure to always check your reply is in keeping with the argument you proposed originally. Position papers can, if at a certain length, come down to repeating, with different words and structures, and the main element point of one's belief. That is always done in reaction to opposing arguments. Otherwise, it'll come across as a news release.


When concluding a situation paper, you have to end strongly. Restate tips which you feel are most pertinent and persuasive. When it is applicable, desirable or possible, you could also propose how you would resolve the matter. If you are used to writing more in-depth essays or articles, the positioning with this may feel more worthy of the body of the text. Nevertheless , a position paper is just first in most cases, the important points and the more expensive bodies of evidence may come in further papers or projects.

How to Write a Position Paper?

A situation paper doesn't require considerable amounts of in-depth research or experimentation. This really is due to the ‘position’ aspect of the format. Positions can change. Nevertheless, it is essential when composing a situation paper to really have a good comprehension of the bigger picture, while the details can watch for further resources to be thrashed out.

For all those working in academia or governance, the subject choice is likely to be defined by your pre-existing commitment. Although we do see entities producing position papers on tangential subjects every once in awhile. This will happen when significant events enter the general public realm which apply broadly, or even universally. We can think about the climate crisis, the Black Lives Matter movement or the coronavirus crisis as recent types of topics in this vein. These events and stories have unmasked that businesses and entities – that are un-related within their primary purpose to social justice or public health – make statements on the position. This tends to happen in proportion to the aforementioned severity and universality of the topic in question.

Select a Position Paper Topic

Deciding on the best topic for a position paper requires thought and decision. If writing in a ‘mock’ sense for an educational assignment it will be a good challenge to try and just take the opposite side of the argument to which you are naturally inclined. Doing so gets the strong potential to make your personal, more firmly held belief, stronger and much more robust as you take time to understand the epistemological and ontological basis for the contrary side. You might find ‘opposite’ becomes a less fitting word for those you disagree with, and common ground may emerge.

But there is also the chance you are incredibly well-informed, researched, and continue reading a topic you are feeling strongly about. Some subjects you may feel are personally too much of a stretch to take a position on. In cases like this, it is important never to dismiss alternative positions to yours without performing homework on your material.

With regards to defining the problem, one must make sure that the problem is indeed real and substantive. If there is intense controversy and ambiguity round the correct way forward, that is also a good marker for scouting position paper topics. Minus the to-and-fro, a posture paper would merely become a report of the facts. Within an ideal position paper, the reality are perhaps subject to interpretation, and outcomes remain not known to a certain extent.

Conduct a preliminary research effort

In terms of preliminary research, a situation paper example on topics you’re enthusiastic about can be a of good use source. Other banks of opinions is found collected together in newspaper letter sections – it is a good method to find organizations or institutions who may have their particular authoritative position but lack a central and widespread platform to be heard from. You will find likely to be numerous perspectives collected in these sections, that makes it important for conducting opposition research.

Challenge Your Topic and Collect Supporting Evidence

To be able to effectively defend and assert your argument, you must have the ability to address the criticism it comes under. As suggested elsewhere in this guide, newspaper letters sections provide fertile ground to discover opposing and differing positions.

Scouring the internet they can be handy when collecting evidence; nevertheless , it is important to retain a level of quality when selecting arguments to deconstruct and evidence to guide your claims.

Search for reliable sources such as governmental websites, use Google Scholar, academia. edu, and arxiv. org to get quality evidence as well as good-sense Googling.

In terms of challenging your role, there are two schools of thought. With respect to the context of one's audience, you're going to have to decide which will be more effective. Similarly, you could choose one or two of the very important challenges by watchfully examining the underpinnings of the logic and simply asserting how there exists a deficiency. There was some debate as to whether this approach is more or less emotionally evocative compared to next method, which is to go for quantity and list the many glaring errors in your opponent’s position.

Whilst going for broke on all aspects of your opposition is tempting, it really is harder to back up when using figures and statistics. It can be done though, so when done well is a solution to show broad understanding, rather than targeted approach which may only negate a couple of points.

It really is worth considering this list style could be more persuasive in certain contexts, and for several audiences. People that have pre-existing knowledge might find it easier to slot your evidence into their conceptions. Whereas newcomers might find your viewpoint and organisation more precise in the event that you only discuss a couple of points.

Usually do not worry over this, there's always time to produce several position papers on different aspects of the issue – which is one technique of building a more substantial project out of smaller pieces.

Position Paper Outline

When writing any form of essay, it is best to first sketch out a plan or outline. You might have intuitive and pre-existing knowledge you wish to element in. Write these down in order to remember it for further research.

Once a sketch has been made and ideas have now been put onto paper, you ought to refer back once again to our ‘3 Parts of a situation Paper’ subheading – it explains the career paper format in increased detail.

It may be tempting to skip outlining papers of kinds. The outline, nevertheless , requires effort on your part to assign your initial thoughts in to a structure. Attempt to rank each argument by strength, work non-linearly to make mind-maps in order to find links between arguments and assertions on both or all sides.

In refuting arguments, it is much better to present the issue seriously and treat it with objectiveness and fairness. In the event that you attempt to ad hominem the right path to success, it could run into as without preparation.

Tips on Writing a Position Paper from Our Experts

Hopefully, this article has provided a feeling of the context, structure, and usefulness of position papers. Position paper sample websites are easy to find on the net If looking for ideas on where to start out researching, take to formulaically looking for “Your Topics” + “debate” on your preferred search engine. You might check out YouTube for videos of debates and presentations, which often run into as verbally performed position papers.

Still another fantastic source which we can’t re-iterate enough for collating many perspectives could be the letters to the editor sections in newspapers. These pages in many cases are published by topic, with a narrative thread running all the way through the content.

Some key takeaways to remember are:

  1. Writing a solid position paper takes a broad knowledge of a topic and the finest details. Definite solutions do not have to be forthcoming in the text. Focus instead on the assumptions underpinning your argument, and the ones on the opposing side. For instance, a contentious facet of the climate crisis debate could be the ‘cleanliness’ of nuclear energy instead of renewable sources.
  2. Sketching position paper outlines can save you time in the long term as you've got a plan to work form
  3. Make sure you cite all sources consistently and properly; regardless of what citation style you employ, stick to it.

Remember: a situation paper is just a way for you to express an opinion on a subject of prominence and importance. It will require evidence to straight back up and refute claims, but it doesn't require original experimental work or novel solutions. Stating your case and setting up a firm marker are the core objectives.