How to Write a Position Paper: Step-By-Step Guide with Examples

Learn how to write a position paper with our step-by-step guide, including topic prompts and example papers.

A position essay or research paper is a paper that requires you to take a position on a controversial subject or question. Often, these papers cover argumentative essay topics that evoke emotion, like illegal immigrants, climate change, violent video game age rating or animal testing.

Your position on the topic because your topic sentence and the rest of the paper or essay back up your point with your research. A high-quality position essay will conclude with a final push toward getting your audience to believe your topic sentence based on the research you present.

You must have the right topic to write a position paper that will persuade an audience to your point of view. These position essay topics will get you started on your research. For help with your essays, check out our round-up of the best essay checkers.

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How to Write a Position Paper?

Step 1. Pick a Topic

Pick a Topic
You can brainstorm topic questions from here by narrowing in on one section of your chosen interest

The purpose of a position paper is to pick a side of a question and aim to convince the reader of the writer’s stance by using research data to back up their views. Choosing a topic is the first step to writing a position paper.

Sometimes, your high school teacher or college professor might have assigned you a topic. But if you’re choosing your own topic, you can begin the process by considering your academic interests or deciding on a specific industry.

You can brainstorm topic questions from here by narrowing in on one section of your chosen interest. For example, if you’re writing about sports, you might choose to write about cheerleading as a sport. Whether you believe that cheerleading is a sport or whether you believe it’s not – you can use the paper to prove your point. Check out these position paper prompts to help you:

A. Is Cloning Humans to Help with Medical Procedures Ethical?

The ability to cline humans still hasn’t made it to reality, but the question is there. Would it be ethical to clone humans for help with medical procedures, such as organ transplants? This question raises a few concerns, including the ethics of experimenting on a newly created clone and the general ethics of cloning a replica of another person.

Discuss this important question in your argumentative essay. Back your choice with facts found in your research. For this topic, you don’t have to research the science behind cloning, just its ethics, so you can do the piece even if you don’t fully understand its science. Check out our explainer on how to write a thank you letter.

B. Should COVID-19 Vaccinations Be Mandatory?

 Should COVID-19 Vaccinations Be Mandatory?
If you argue for mandated vaccines, consider whether or not there should be exceptions to this rule

As we near the end of the pandemic, many people wonder whether or not COVID-19 vaccinations should be required by law. Some claim that vaccination is for the greater good and is something everyone should do, while others state that it should be a personal choice.

If you argue for mandated vaccines, consider whether or not there should be exceptions to this rule. If you decide to argue against it, be prepared to show other measures society can take to slow or stop the spread of the virus.

C. Is Cheerleading a Sport?

Ask any cheerleader, and you will get an emphatic “yes” to this question. Cheerleading is physically demanding and often requires careful diets and exercise routines to find success.

Yet others will argue that cheerleading is not a sport because it is not a competition in the way that basketball or soccer are. You can argue either way based on your opinion after doing the research. You might also find our headings and subheadings examples helpful.

D. Should the Minimum Wage Be Raised?

Federal labor laws have the minimum wage set at $12 an hour. Yet, this is not enough to live off a full-time income in many parts of the country. You could argue whether or not the minimum wage should increase to accommodate inflation.

Here’s the problem with that argument, which you should also consider. If you raise the minimum wage, you will have increased inflation to accommodate the higher labor costs. This can backfire, preventing you from enjoying the benefits of higher base pay.

Step 2. Conduct Preliminary Research

Conduct Preliminary Research
Gather evidence from reliable and credible sources to support your point of view and make a compelling argument to convince the reader

Position papers use evidence to support the claims and to persuade the reader to join their stance on the chosen topic. It’s essential to use supporting evidence for your statements and to supply background information when writing your paper. 

Gather evidence from reliable and credible sources to support your point of view and make a compelling argument to convince the reader. Doing this before writing your arguments and counterarguments is a great way to make writing easier and complete a good position paper.

Remember to include citations in your paper. Failing to include citations can put you at risk of being penalized for plagiarism. Also, ensure you use the correct format, such as MLA or APA. If you’re unsure of the citation style to use, check with your teacher or professor. You might also find our guide on how to write a case study useful.

Step 3. Write Your Thesis

Once you’ve decided on your topic and stance and gathered your preliminary evidence, it’s time to write the thesis statement! The thesis statement is a summary sentence that states your position on the topic and includes your key supporting evidence. Place your thesis statement after your introductory paragraph to help readers understand the main parts of your argument. 

Step 4. Create An Outline

Create an outline
In creating an outline, split your page into sections for the introduction, body, and conclusion

Use your thesis statement and notes to create a template and outline your argument. To do this, split your page into sections for the introduction, body, and conclusion. 

  • Introduction: Introduce the topic and your position on the topic chosen for the paper. Include background information on the chosen topic, and explain why the topic is important to you.
  • Body: This section should include your arguments and claims with supporting evidence. Split your content into body paragraphs for each point of your argument, and include supporting evidence and counter arguments to support your stance. The body is the most important part of your paper, so make sure to include as much information on the subject matter as possible and use all of your research. Short position papers usually include three body paragraphs, but longer papers may have multiple sections and several body paragraphs.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion of a position paper is used to highlight the key points of your argument, emphasize your stance, and summarize your paper in a way that is compelling to the reader. Use a conclusion as an opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the reader and finish strong. 

Step 5. Write a Draft 

Write a draft 
A great way to approach your draft is to add your evidence to each section of your outline template and build your content around the research

Write the first draft of your position paper using the outline template and bulk up the content with your research and arguments. Creating a draft is a great way to get into the flow of your paper and not get hung up on the details of writing. Use this as an opportunity to get your ideas on paper. 

A great way to approach your draft is to add your evidence to each section of your outline template and build your content around the research. Once you’ve outlined the main points and counter arguments, you can work on bulking up the content.

Step 6. Review and Write!

Review your final draft and fill out your paper by adding emotive language, supporting your arguments with contextual information, and fully explaining your research data. Once you’ve completed your paper, it’s time to proofread and review your work. A great way to review your work is by using an AI assistant like Grammarly to tidy up the grammar, improve readability, and ensure your points resonate with the reader. Check out our Grammarly review!

Position Paper Examples

1. The Death Penalty Has No Place in America by Anthony Langdon

“Racial bias is obvious throughout our prisons and police departments, so it tracks that capital punishment is afflicted, as well. Katherine Beckett and Heather Evans studied the role of race in Washington state’s capital sentencing from 1981 to 2014 and found that, controlling for all other legal factors, Black defendants were four and a half times more likely to be sentenced to death as non-Black defendants.”

Anthony Langdon

In this article, Langdon discusses his opinion that the death penalty should not be part of the American justice system. He cites problems with racial bias as a reason for this belief.

2. Universal Healthcare Provides Americans the Security Needed in Uncertain Times by Jeremy C. Kourvelas

“Universal healthcare would free small business owners from having to provide coverage while simultaneously enhancing the freedom of the worker. Lifespans could be longer, people could be happier and healthier in systems that are simpler and more affordable.”

Jeremy C. Kourvelas

In this piece, Kourvelas discusses the benefits of universal healthcare for Americans and the economy. He uses these benefits to show how, in his opinion, universal healthcare is the right choice for Americans.

3. Should Sex Education Be Taught in Schools by Peter DeWitt

“Thinking about sex education conjures up all of those uncomfortable moments as an adolescent when we had to sit at our desks and listen to our health teachers talk about things that we joked about with friends but never wanted to have a conversation about with adults. But things have changed a lot since then.”

Peter DeWitt

As a former public school principal, DeWitt has a strong opinion on this topic. In this opinion piece, he looks at how middle school and high school students benefit from sex education in school and what people should consider when discussing this topic.

4. We are the Ones Failing Our Teens, Not Social Media by Emma McCarthy

“It’s no secret that social media is taking a toll on teenagers, especially girls. Filters and photo editing create the facade of a seemingly perfect life and put an emphasis on unrealistic beauty standards and constant comparison. This often leads to decreased self-esteem and to body image concerns.”

Emma McCarthy

There’s no denying that social media use by high school and college students is creating a mental health crisis. Still, in this article, McCarthy argues that the lack of parental and educator input into young people’s lives may have the most significant impact. She claims that a lack of education about how teens use social media among adults is the biggest problem.

5. Communication is key to a successful roommate relationship

“We respected each other by setting boundaries. We discussed when we typically went to bed during the week and then decided when to turn the lights out. We also always asked if it was okay to have a visitor, to borrow personal belongings or to call family. Our constant conversation allowed us to start off our college dorm experience seamlessly, as we both agreed to be honest with each other.”

Maggi Abboud

Moving out of home is tough, but it becomes even tougher when you realize it’s time to navigate roommate relationships. In this position paper example, Maggi Abboud discusses the importance of creating a healthy relationship with her roommate through communication. She states that setting clear boundaries at the start of college helped them maintain respect and build a positive relationship with respect.

6. The growing demand for limits on speech in academia

“The protection of free speech on campus should not be valued over the protection of students from the possible harm that the content of this speech may cause. In college, students are still learning who they are and how to love themselves and they should be free to grow into their identities without shame or embarrassment.”

Sophia Eppley

Sophia Eppley believes that the protection of free speech should not be valued over the protection of students at University campuses. Georgia House Bill 1 was passed in 2022, which removed any restriction of free speech by making every accessible, common area on a college campus a free speech zone. Although free speech is arguably a positive thing, it’s important to remember that free speech also allows the freedom of those with controversial ( and often offensive) opinions to speak freely. This position paper example gives great insight into the experiences of students who face challenging confrontations by free speech activists.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of informative essay topics!