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Position Paper – Example, Format and Writing Guide

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Position Paper

Position Paper

Definition:

Position paper is a written document that presents an argument or stance on a particular issue or topic. It outlines the author’s position on the issue and provides support for that position with evidence and reasoning. Position papers are commonly used in academic settings, such as in Model United Nations conferences or debates, but they can also be used in professional or political contexts.

Position papers typically begin with an introduction that presents the issue and the author’s position on it. The body of the paper then provides evidence and reasoning to support that position, often citing relevant sources and research. The conclusion of the paper summarizes the author’s argument and emphasizes its importance.

Types of Position Paper

There are several types of position papers, including:

  • Advocacy Position Paper : This type of position paper presents an argument in support of a particular issue, policy, or proposal. It seeks to persuade the reader to take a particular action or adopt a particular perspective.
  • Counter-Argument Position Paper: This type of position paper presents an argument against a particular issue, policy, or proposal. It seeks to convince the reader to reject a particular perspective or course of action.
  • Problem-Solution Position Paper : This type of position paper identifies a problem and presents a solution to it. It seeks to convince the reader that the proposed solution is the best course of action to address the identified problem.
  • Comparative Position Paper : This type of position paper compares and contrasts two or more options, policies, or proposals. It seeks to convince the reader that one option is better than the others.
  • Historical Position Paper : This type of position paper examines a historical event, policy, or perspective and presents an argument based on the analysis of the historical context.
  • Interpretive Position Paper : This type of position paper provides an interpretation or analysis of a particular issue, policy, or proposal. It seeks to persuade the reader to adopt a particular perspective or understanding of the topic.
  • Policy Position Paper: This type of position paper outlines a specific policy proposal and presents an argument in support of it. It may also address potential objections to the proposal and offer solutions to address those objections.
  • Value Position Paper: This type of position paper argues for or against a particular value or set of values. It seeks to convince the reader that a particular value or set of values is more important or better than others.
  • Predictive Position Paper : This type of position paper makes predictions about future events or trends and presents an argument for why those predictions are likely to come true. It may also offer suggestions for how to prepare for or respond to those events or trends.
  • Personal Position Paper : This type of position paper presents an individual’s personal perspective or opinion on a particular issue. It may draw on personal experiences or beliefs to support the argument.

Position Paper Format

Here is a format you can follow when writing a position paper:

  • Introduction: The introduction should provide a brief overview of the topic or issue being discussed. It should also provide some background information on the issue and state the purpose of the position paper.
  • Definition of the problem : This section should describe the problem or issue that the position paper addresses. It should explain the causes and effects of the problem and provide evidence to support the claims made.
  • Historical perspective : This section should provide a historical perspective on the issue or problem, outlining how it has evolved over time and what previous attempts have been made to address it.
  • The organization’s stance : This section should present the organization’s stance on the issue or problem. It should provide evidence to support the organization’s position and explain the rationale behind it. This section should also address any counterarguments or alternative perspectives.
  • Proposed solutions: This section should provide proposed solutions or recommendations to address the problem or issue. It should explain how the proposed solutions align with the organization’s stance and provide evidence to support their effectiveness.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion should summarize the organization’s position on the issue or problem and restate the proposed solutions or recommendations. It should also encourage further discussion and action on the issue.
  • References: Include a list of references used to support the claims made in the position paper.

How to Write Position Paper

Here are the steps to write a position paper:

  • Choose your topic: Select a topic that you are passionate about or have knowledge of. It could be related to social, economic, environmental, political, or any other issues.
  • Research: Conduct thorough research on the topic to gather relevant information and supporting evidence. This could include reading scholarly articles, reports, books, and news articles.
  • Define your position: Once you have gathered sufficient information, identify the main arguments and formulate your position. Consider both the pros and cons of the issue.
  • Write an introduction : Start your position paper with a brief introduction that provides some background information on the topic and highlights the key points that you will discuss in the paper.
  • Present your arguments: In the body of your paper, present your arguments in a logical and coherent manner. Each argument should be supported by evidence from your research.
  • Address opposing views : Acknowledge and address the opposing views on the issue. Provide counterarguments that refute these views and explain why your position is more valid.
  • Conclusion : In the conclusion, summarize your main points and reiterate your position on the topic. You can also suggest some solutions or actions that can be taken to address the issue.
  • Edit and proofread : Finally, edit and proofread your position paper to ensure that it is well-written, clear, and free of errors.

Position Paper Example

Position Paper Example structure is as follows:

  • Introduction:
  • A brief overview of the issue
  • A clear statement of the position the paper is taking
  • Background:
  • A detailed explanation of the issue
  • A discussion of the history of the issue
  • An analysis of any previous actions taken on the issue
  • A detailed explanation of the position taken by the paper
  • A discussion of the reasons for the position taken
  • Evidence supporting the position, such as statistics, research, and expert opinions
  • Counterarguments:
  • A discussion of opposing views and arguments
  • A rebuttal of those opposing views and arguments
  • A discussion of why the position taken is more valid than the opposing views
  • Conclusion:
  • A summary of the main points of the paper
  • A call to action or recommendation for action
  • A final statement reinforcing the position taken by the paper
  • References:
  • A list of sources used in the paper, cited in an appropriate citation style

Purpose of Position Paper

Here are some of the most common purposes of position papers:

  • Advocacy: Position papers are often used to promote a particular point of view or to advocate for a specific policy or action.
  • Debate : In a debate, participants are often required to write position papers outlining their argument. These papers help the debaters clarify their position and provide evidence to support their claims.
  • Negotiation : Position papers can be used as part of negotiations to establish each party’s position on a particular issue.
  • Education : Position papers can be used to educate the public, policymakers, and other stakeholders about complex issues by presenting a clear and concise argument supported by evidence.
  • Decision-making : Position papers can be used by decision-makers to make informed decisions about policies, programs, or initiatives based on a well-reasoned argument.
  • Research : Position papers can be used as a starting point for further research on a particular topic or issue.

When to Write Position Paper

Here are some common situations when you might need to write a position paper:

  • Advocacy or lobbying : If you are part of an organization that is advocating for a specific policy change or trying to influence decision-makers, a position paper can help you articulate your organization’s position and provide evidence to support your arguments.
  • Conferences or debates: In academic or professional settings, you may be asked to write a position paper to present your perspective on a particular topic or issue. This can be a useful exercise to help you clarify your thoughts and prepare for a debate or discussion.
  • Public relations: A position paper can also be used as a tool for public relations, to showcase your organization’s expertise and thought leadership on a particular issue.
  • Internal communications: Within an organization, a position paper can be used to communicate a particular stance or policy to employees or stakeholders.

Advantages of Position Paper

There are several advantages to writing a position paper, including:

  • Organizing thoughts : Writing a position paper requires careful consideration of the issue at hand, and the process of organizing thoughts and arguments can help you clarify your own position.
  • Demonstrating expertise: Position papers are often used in academic and professional settings to demonstrate expertise on a particular topic. Writing a well-researched and well-written position paper can help establish your credibility and expertise in a given field.
  • Advocacy: Position papers are often used as a tool for advocacy, whether it’s advocating for a particular policy or for a specific point of view. Position papers can help persuade others to adopt your position on an issue.
  • Facilitating discussion : Position papers can be used to facilitate discussion and debate on a particular issue. By presenting different perspectives on an issue, position papers can help foster dialogue and lead to a better understanding of the topic at hand.
  • Providing a framework for action: Position papers can also be used to provide a framework for action. By outlining specific steps that should be taken to address an issue, a position paper can help guide decision-making and policy development.

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How To Write the Perfect Position Paper

essay or position paper

Opinions are like cars. Lots of people have them, but very few know how they actually work. At some point in high school, or college, you will be required to have an opinion on something. That’s the easy part. The hard part is providing that your opinion has merit. That’s the basic premise behind writing a position paper, or a persuasive essay. This is the time-tested academic tradition where you are required to stake out a meaningful position on an important subject and, subsequently, to provide relevant and verifiable evidence that your position is grounded in solid fact.

Book Cover for The Complete Guide to Contract Cheating in Higher Education

This is an important skill, not just in school or on social media, but in real life. So if you’re on the hunt for solid facts, check out our constantly growing library of The Most Controversial Topics For Your Position Paper .

We recognize, however, that knowing a lot of facts isn’t the same as being able to write about these facts in a convincing or authoritative way. Writing an excellent position paper is a multi-step process that requires you to integrate both fact and opinion into a coherent and compelling essay. Lucky for you, we’ve got a handy step-by-step guide on how to do this.

Read on to find how you can write the perfect position paper in 10 steps...

How To Write a Position Paper

1. choose a topic that interests you.

Start with something you actually care about. If given the freedom, choose a subject that has personal meaning for you. Having real passion for the subject matter can be energizing as you dive into the research and it can infuse your writing with authenticity.

Many students like to write about controversial topics. Our study starters cover the top 25 controversial topics today .

2. Develop a Thesis Statement

Once you’ve got a subject, it’s time to define exactly where you stand on the issue. What is the point you hope to prove in your position paper? And how do you plan to prove it? If you’re not sure exactly where you stand, this is the starting point in your research. Find out what some of the leading thinkers, journalists, and public figures are saying on the subject. Which viewpoint resonates most with you? You should come away from this process with a thesis statement that both indicates your viewpoint and lays out the supporting points that will ultimately shape your essay. For instance, if you’re writing about a policy issue, your thesis might say something like “The newly proposed policy to ______ would be beneficial to the general public because it would ______, _________, and ________.

3. Identify Credible Sources

As you begin your research, it is absolutely critical that you identify only credible sources including primary sources, scholarly journals, and articles from legitimate news outlets. Of course, every source has its own implicit biases. But as you identify and use these sources, it’s your job to identify and recognize those biases. You can use a source provided by a politically biased think tank as long as you explicitly identify that bias. The most important thing you can do, as you gather resources, is ensure that they come from valid outlets , that you recognize any affiliations that might shape their perspective, and that you eliminate any sources that peddle in disinformation.

For more tips on how to do this, check out our article on How Students Can Spot Fake News .

4. Build Your Reference List

Now that you’ve identified credible resources, create your reference list. Citation is a building block of both the research process and the broader concept of academic integrity. As a student, you are expected to draw on the findings of those who came before you. But you have to credit those scholars in order to do so. Make sure you adhere to the formatting style indicated by your academic institution, course, and instructor , whether you are required to write in MLA, APA, Chicago, or its exotic-sounding twin, Turabian. Purdue’s website provides one of the more reliable style guides for your formatting reference needs .

We have a database to help you find influential scholars in a variety of subjects. We also point out influencers related to nearly 30 of the most controversial topics

5. Do Your Research

This step is all about gathering information. Now that you’ve locked in your sources, it’s time to dive deeper. If you enjoy learning new things, this is the fun part. Get comfortable and start reading. Research is the process of discovery, so take your time. Allow yourself to become absorbed in the subject matter, to be immersed, to lose yourself in the information. But come up for air every once in a while so you can take notes. Gather the ideas, statistics, and direct quotes from your research that ultimately strengthen your argument. And don’t shy away from information that contradicts your argument either. This is meant to be a learning process, so allow your position on the subject to evolve as you are presented with new information. The thesis that you’ve written is a starting point, but it’s not set in stone. If your research leads you in a different direction, don’t be afraid to refine or even revise your thesis accordingly.

6. Outline Your Position Paper

Now that your thesis has been reinforced by research, create a basic outline for what you’ll be writing . If you do this part correctly, the rest should simply be a process of filling in the blanks. Below is a basic framework for how you might structure a position paper:

  • Introduction
  • Setting up the subject
  • Thesis Statement
  • Basic Argument
  • Identification of Supporting Evidence
  • Supporting Evidence 1
  • Explanation
  • Supporting Evidence 2
  • Supporting Evidence 3
  • Counterpoint
  • Identification of Opposing Viewpoint(s)
  • Refutation of Opposing Viewpoint(s)
  • Reiterate Thesis
  • Tie Together Supporting Arguments

7. Build Your Argument

The outline above is merely a framework. Now it’s up to you to infuse that framework with your personality, your perspective and your voice. Your thesis and supporting quotes are the bones of your essay, but you’ll be adding the flesh to those bones with your set ups and explanations. This is your chance to explain why the evidence located in your research makes you feel the way you do. Remember, you are writing a fact-based essay on something that should trigger emotions in both you and the reader. Do not be afraid to lean into these feelings for your writing, as long as you keep those feelings strongly grounded in the facts of the case.

8. Address the Counterpoint

No argument is complete without recognition of its counterpart. Your willingness to acknowledge opposing viewpoints is a show of faith in your own argument. This gives you a chance to provide an honest appraisal of an opposing viewpoint and to confront this appraisal with fact-based refutation.

9. Tie It All Together

Now that you’ve spent your time fully immersed in the argument, it’s time to pull the pieces together. Revisit your introduction. Your opening paragraph should be crisp, engaging, and straight to the point. Don’t bury the lead. The purpose of your essay should be stated early and clearly. Likewise, build a concluding section that offers a compelling way of restating the thesis while incorporating some of the new things we’ve learned from reading your essay. Tie your various supporting arguments together to illustrate that we have all learned enough to agree with your initial position. And revisit each of your supporting paragraphs to ensure that each idea logically flows into the next. Write natural segue sentences between paragraphs and ensure that the connection between each supporting argument and your thesis is clear .

10. Proof, Edit, Revise, Repeat

Now you’ve assembled an essay, but it needs work. That’s not an insult. Anything ever written always needs work. Start with proofing. Look for typos, grammatical errors and incomplete sentences. Give your essay a technical cleaning. But you should also read for style, tone and substance. Does your argument hang together? Is it compelling? Do you adequately prove your point? You may find that this is an opportunity to trim gratuitous information or to add supporting information that might strengthen your argument. And as you revise your essay, try reading your work out loud. Hearing your own words out loud can reveal areas where your point might not come across as clearly. Spend as much time as you need on this step. Don’t be afraid to make substantive changes during this process. Invariably, your final draft will be significantly stronger than your rough draft.

And I’ll leave you with just one more thought-one that has always helped me as a writer. This tip comes from author Henry Miller’s famous 11 Commandments of Writing . Among the numerous valuable tips you can draw from his list, my personal favorite says “Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.”

This is great advice at any stage in your writing career. Dive in and write fearlessly.

And now that you’ve got a step-by-step roadmap for attacking your position paper, get more valuable tips, tricks, and hacks from our comprehensive collection of Study Guides and Study Starters .

And if you are struggling with how to take effective notes in class, check out our guide on note taking .

5 Steps to Writing a Position Paper

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  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

In a position paper assignment, your charge is to choose a side on a particular topic, sometimes controversial, and build up a case for your opinion or position. You will use facts, opinion, statistics, and other forms of evidence to convince your reader that your position is the best one. To do this, you'll collect research for your position paper and craft an outline in order to create a well-constructed argument.

Select a Topic for Your Paper

Your position paper centers around a topic that is supported by research. Your topic and position have to hold up when challenged, so it's helpful to research a few topics and pick the one you can best argue, even if it may not reflect your personal beliefs. In many cases, the subject matter and your topic are not as important as your ability to make a strong case. Your topic can be simple or complex, but your argument must be sound and logical.

Conduct Preliminary Research

Preliminary research is necessary to determine whether sufficient evidence is available to back up your stance. You don’t want to get too attached to a topic that falls apart under a challenge.

Search a few reputable sites, like education (.edu) sites and government (.gov) sites, to find professional studies and statistics. If you come up with nothing after an hour of searching, or if you find that your position doesn’t stand up to the findings on reputable sites, choose another topic. This could save you from a lot of frustration later.

Challenge Your Own Topic

You must know the opposite view as well as you know your own stance when you take a position. Take the time to determine all the possible challenges that you might face as you support your view. Your position paper must address the opposing view and chip away at it with counter-evidence. Consider having friends, colleagues, or family debate the topic with you to get alternative points of view that you might not have readily considered yourself. When you find arguments for the other side of your position, you can address them in a fair manner, and then state why they are not sound.

Another helpful exercise is to draw a line down the middle of a plain sheet of paper and list your points on one side and list opposing points on the other side. Which argument is really better? If it looks like your opposition might outnumber you with valid points, you should reconsider your topic or your stance on the topic.

Continue to Collect Supporting Evidence

Once you’ve determined that your position is supportable and the opposite position is (in your opinion) weaker than your own, you are ready to branch out with your research. Go to a library and conduct a search, or ask the reference librarian to help you find more sources. You can, of course, conduct online research as well, but it's important to know how to properly vet the validity of the sources you use. Ensure that your articles are written by reputable sources, and be wary of singular sources that differ from the norm, as these are often subjective rather than factual in nature.

Try to collect a variety of sources, and include both an expert’s opinion (doctor, lawyer, or professor, for example) and personal experience (from a friend or family member) that can add an emotional appeal to your topic. These statements should support your own position but should read differently than your own words. The point of these is to add depth to your argument or provide anecdotal support.

Create an Outline

A position paper can be arranged in the following format:

1. Introduce your topic with some basic background information. Build up to your thesis sentence , which asserts your position. Sample points:

  • For decades, the FDA has required that warning labels should be placed on certain products that pose a threat to public health.
  • Fast food restaurants are bad for our health.
  • Fast food packages should contain warning labels.

2. Introduce possible objections to your position. Sample points:

  • Such labels would affect the profits of major corporations.
  • Many people would see this as overreaching government control.
  • Whose job is it to determine which restaurants are bad? Who draws the line?
  • The program would be costly.

3. Support and acknowledge the opposing points. Just be sure you aren't discrediting your own views. Sample points:

  • It would be difficult and expensive for any entity to determine which restaurants should adhere to the policy.
  • Nobody wants to see the government overstepping its boundaries.
  • Funding would fall on the shoulders of taxpayers.

4. Explain that your position is still the best one, despite the strength of counter-arguments. This is where you can work to discredit some of the counter-arguments and support your own. Sample points:

  • The cost would be countered by the improvement of public health.
  • Restaurants might improve the standards of food if warning labels were put into place.
  • One role of the government is to keep citizens safe.
  • The government already does this with drugs and cigarettes.

5. Summarize your argument and restate your position. End your paper focusing on your argument and avoid the counter-arguments. You want your audience to walk away with your view on the topic being one that resonates with them.

When you write a position paper, write with confidence and state your opinion with authority. After all, your goal is to demonstrate that your position is the correct one.

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How to Write a Position Paper

Last Updated: March 22, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 234,507 times.

Just like an argument paper, a position paper supports one side of an issue, similar to in a debate. Your goal will be to provide convincing evidence to the reader that your position is the correct stance to take on an issue. You can write a great position paper by choosing your position carefully, developing your argument, drafting your paper, and revising and editing your work.

Position Paper Outline and Example

essay or position paper

Choosing Your Position

Step 1 Make sure your topic is arguable.

  • For example, you wouldn’t want to write a paper arguing that children need proper care, as no one would disagree with that stance.
  • A better topic may be taking a stance on what should be done if children are not receiving proper care.

Step 2 Research your topic and the alternative sides.

  • Visit your local library to find books, journals, and newspapers.
  • Access online databases, credible websites, and news sources.
  • To decide if a source is credible , look for peer-reviewed journals, check the credentials of the author, locate the information in two separate sources, and check the date to make sure the information is the most recent available. You should also avoid self-published sources.

Step 3 Make a pros and cons list for at least 2 positions on your topic.

  • Looking at both sides not only helps you pick the best position, it will also help you choose a good counterargument. [3] X Research source
  • For example, if you are writing a paper about whether or not your community should invest in new park equipment, your two sides would be either in favor of the new park equipment or against it. A pro of buying new equipment might be purchasing safer equipment, while a con would be the expense of the purchase.

Step 4 Think about your views on the issue.

  • In some cases, it’s easier to argue a position if you don’t have strong opinions either way. This is because you can focus on the evidence, not on your personal views.

Step 5 Consider your audience's views on the topic.

  • While you don’t have to change your position to fit your audience, you may want to adjust your reasons behind the position or the counter-argument you choose.

Building Your Argument

Step 1 Establish your claim.

  • If possible, look for supporting reasons that are shown through 2 or more different pieces of evidence, as this will make your argument stronger.
  • Use your assignment sheet or the parameters of your paper to determine how many supporting reasons you should include. For many academic papers, you will use 2 to 3 reasons.

Step 3 Compile your supporting evidence.

  • Use an organizing strategy that works for you.
  • Compiling your evidence now will help you more easily write your paper.
  • Keep in mind that it is important to cite your sources. If you use a direct quote from a source, then put it into quotation marks and identify the author when you use it. If you paraphrase or summarize something from a source, give credit to the author for the ideas.
  • Don’t go overboard on including evidence! Remember that most of the ideas in the paper should be your own. It’s good to quote sources, but avoid quoting entire paragraphs from other sources. Keep your quotes to a sentence or two and try to avoid including more than one quote per paragraph.

Step 4 Identify a counter-argument that you can easily dismiss.

  • For example, if you are writing a position paper arguing that your community should purchase new playground equipment, your counter-argument could be that the purchase will be too expensive. To strengthen your argument, you would cite this possible point against you but show why it's not a valid reason to dismiss your position. A good way to do that would be to show that the equipment is worth the expense or that there is outside funding to pay for it.
  • You will also want a piece of evidence that supports your counter-argument. This evidence, which should be easy to dismiss, will be included in your paper.

Drafting Your Paper

Step 1 Develop your thesis.

  • One easy way to set up your argument in your thesis is to include both your counter-argument and claim, preceded by the word “although.” For example, “Although installing new playground equipment in the park will be expensive, new playground equipment would provide a safe play area for children and offer options for special needs children.”
  • If you’re an expert writer, you may not need to include supporting reasons in your thesis. For example, “As parents learn the benefits and dangers of outside play, communities across the nation are turning their eyes toward their parks, making safe, accessible equipment a public necessity.” [11] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Step 2 Write your introduction.

  • Start with a hook that introduces your topic. For example, you could provide a statistic of how many children are injured on old playground equipment every year.
  • Include a few sentences that provide more information on your topic, narrowing down toward your stance.
  • End your introduction with your thesis.

Step 3 Include at least 2 body paragraphs.

  • Follow the requirements for your paper, which may state how many paragraphs you should include.

Step 4 Use topic sentences that link back to your thesis.

  • For example, you could write: “Installing new playground equipment would make the park more inclusive for special needs children because updated designs are accessible to those who are disabled.”

Step 5 Provide evidence to support your position.

  • Documented stories

Step 6 Provide commentary to explain your evidence.

  • Without commentary, there is no link between your evidence and your position, leaving your argument weak.

Step 7 Conclude your essay by reasserting your position.

  • Restate your thesis. For example, "While new playground equipment is expensive, it's worth the investment because it serves the best interests of the community by providing children with a safe area to play and making the park more accessible for special needs children."
  • Sum up your argument.
  • End on a high note with a call to action. For example, "Children need a safe, accessible place to play, so the only choice is to install new park equipment in Quimby Park."

Step 8 Cite your sources...

  • If you don’t cite your sources, then you will be guilty of plagiarism. You could lose credit or face harsher penalties if you are caught stealing someone else’s words or ideas.

Revising and Editing Your Paper

Step 1 Use your spell check tool.

  • Before you change a word, re-read the sentence to make sure that the new suggestion fits. The spell checker may think that you mean one thing, while you really mean something else.

Step 2 Take a break from your paper.

  • Waiting at least a day is best. If you are short on time, wait at least 30 minutes before reviewing what you’ve written.

Step 3 Re-read your paper with fresh eyes.

  • If possible, have a friend or mentor read your paper and suggest edits or revisions.

Step 4 Revise your paper.

  • Combine short, choppy sentences, and break up long sentences.
  • Fix sentence fragments and run-ons.

Step 5 Proofread your paper to make final edits.

  • If possible, ask a friend or mentor to proofread your final draft. They may be able to spot errors that you don’t see.

Step 6 Prepare your works...

  • If you are presenting or turning in a printed paper, check to see if you should place it in a presentation folder.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Avoid using the words “I” and “you” in your thesis. Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 0
  • Make sure that you stay focused on your claim throughout your paper and that all of the evidence you present in the paper is supporting your claim. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

essay or position paper

  • Give credit when you use someone else's opinion, statistics, facts or quotations. Avoid plagiarism by referencing and citing your sources. Thanks Helpful 10 Not Helpful 3

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  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-position-paper
  • ↑ https://www.cs.rutgers.edu/~rmartin/teaching/fall15/Writing_a_Position_Paper.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.nmun.org/assets/documents/nmun-pp-guide.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
  • ↑ https://bowiestate.libguides.com/c.php?g=442189&p=3014828
  • ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/writingforsuccess/chapter/chapter-12-peer-review-and-final-revisions/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/writingprocess/proofreading

About This Article

Emily Listmann, MA

If you need to write a position paper, choose a topic that has at least 2 clear sides, then pick one of those sides as your position. Gather research from books, newspapers, academic journals, online databases, and other credible sources, making sure to cover your own position and at least one opposing side. Open your paper by stating your claim, or the position you have taken, then offer at least 2 pieces of evidence to support that stance. Identify and dismiss a counter-argument to your position as well. For tips on how to use topic sentences to link your paragraphs to your thesis, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Position Paper: Definition, Outline & Examples

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A position paper is a written statement that presents a particular perspective on any issue or topic. It typically argues a specific point of view and presents evidence to support that position. To write a position paper, you need to research and understand the topic, develop a supported argument, and address opposing viewpoints.

In this comprehensive guide, you will find all important information that will help you prepare this type of assignment. More specifically we will talk about:

  • What is a position paper?
  • How to write a position paper?
  • Position paper example you could use for inspiration.

As an experienced paper writer team, we always come to support fellow students by providing them with helpful information and tips. Our readers can find detailed definitions and high-quality supporting materials on this website – all of that available for free! 

What Is a Position Paper: Definition

First of all, let’s define it. Your position paper should clearly display and support your own view of a specific problem. Typically, position papers explore more or less controversial questions, which is why they must include argumentation supported by valid data. Providing evidence to the readers is the main distinctive feature of such an essay. Your work should demonstrate your ability to put up a strong case, not just describe your beliefs. Before you write a position paper, think it through and start with understanding your purpose. What do you try to tell your audience, and what is the best way to convey it? This helps with building good argumentation and structuring your essay.

Position Paper

Keep in mind that unlike a persuasive essay , convincing your readers to accept your point isn’t your primary task. Your piece should mainly focus on information that makes an argument strong. That’s why you should use supportive evidence that backs up your viewpoints. 

Purpose of a Position Paper

Why do you need a position paper? First of all, it serves as great supporting material when talking about your viewpoint in front of an audience. Writing a position paper beforehand helps to organize your thoughts on the topic and set your defenses properly. Besides, you can use it when speaking to ensure you haven’t forgotten to mention something important. You might also be required to submit your paper before or after your speech. If it is your college or university assignment, this document will be your main output, which is why its structure and format are so important.

Position Paper Outline

One of the main first steps is preparing an outline for a position paper. After you’ve done some research and gathered enough data on your topic, spend additional time and create a concise draft. It should display your paper’s entire structure, including the key arguments, without going into much details. Your writing should follow a basic 5 paragraph essay outline . Once done with your plan, you can review it and easily spot major gaps or inconsistencies. Checking your work at this stage is typically much more productive than after writing the full text. Here is an example of position paper outline:

  • Hook the reader with stats, numbers or facts
  • Introduce the issue
  • Include a thesis statement presenting your central idea and stand on the problem
  • Present counterclaims
  • Offer evidence that backs up counterarguments
  • Refute the counter arguments using examples
  • Strong opinion
  • Supporting examples
  • Restate your main claim
  • Offer a course of action

Hopefully, this position paper template will speed up your progress with your own work. Check the attachments below – complete sample papers along with outlines are available there.

Position Paper Outline Example.png

Position Paper Structure

What exactly does the structure of a position paper include? This is quite easy: similarly to any other scholarly essay, your position paper should contain three main parts:

Introduction

  • Main body part
  • Conclusion.

You’ll write a good position paper if you make it readable and concise in addition to preparing string argumentation backed by valid evidence. Otherwise, your poorly structured text won’t impress your readers. We’ve prepared more helpful information on how you should compose each of these sections. You can find it below, so please read it attentively. Also, check out the sample position papers available on this page. You can find more tips and ideas below.

Good introduction for a position paper should make your reader well familiar with the problem you are arguing about. This typically involves explaining why it is important for everyone or why you’ve decided to discuss it. Besides, the introduction must engage your audience so that they would be interested in hearing more about your position and evaluating its validity. This is how to start writing a position paper:

  • Clearly state your position, giving the thesis statement.
  • Give enough context about the problem and its background, explaining why you stand this ground.
  • ‘Hook’ your readers by making it sound interesting.

The latter can be achieved by making some hints about upcoming evidence, using some kind of wordplay, or just making a suitable joke.

Body of a position paper is where its argumentation should be placed. When you make a position paper, be sure to divide it into logically interconnected paragraphs – each one for one of your major arguments expressed in the topic sentence . Make proper transitions between them. Leave at least one paragraph for the counter argumentation you may have faced and for its rebuttal. The evidence you’ve collected to support your claim should also be presented in the main body, together with quotes and references (if any). Remember to use solid and relevant data and avoid unnecessary facts, as they don’t bring value and may just make the text less readable. Pay attention to the consistency and readability of this section. Its structure and contents show how well you’ve built your argumentation. And that is what makes position papers persuasive.

This is how to write a conclusion for a position paper that adds real value to it:

  • Properly summarize your argumentation, showing how it supports your take.
  • Make it sound strong; ensure that it is logical and well-readable.
  • Keep it brief, don’t repeat anything from the main part.

Remember that your proposition paper conclusion will be the last thing your audience reads, so making a strong and persuasive ending would help with leaving a good impression on it. You’ll find a conclusion template in one of the sections below.

How to Write a Position Paper in 9 Steps

Let’s get to the point – you must write a good position paper, and now you’re looking for some helpful tips on that. We’ve got your back! First and foremost, the best beginning is to set up a strong position. Otherwise, your essay will simply be uninteresting. Now make sure you can actually prove what it states. But that’s just the beginning: think about captivating headings, add some clever techniques and diligent work to that, keeping focus on your goal – and you’ll get an excellent paper. What should be added? Just keep reading. We’ve prepared an elaborate guide on how to write a position paper step by step. Let’s go and check it!

1. Choose a Topic

Creating position papers requires some hard work, but choosing a proper subject may save a lot of time and effort. If it is uninteresting or too narrow, that might result in an issue. Better to choose a topic that:

  • Is relevant and controversial: this will draw your readers’ interest.
  • Is understandable for you, so it would be easier for you to discuss some points about it.
  • Has received some coverage in news, books, or other sources, making it simpler to find enough evidence about it.

Before commencing the writing process, search among good topics for position papers and select one most suitable for taking a point around it.

2. Do Research Before Writing a Position Paper

Conducting preliminary research for position papers is a key step before starting with actual writing. This is where you can collect evidence about your subject:

  • Google it This is easier but remember to filter out results with low credibility.
  • Media If this is a recent and big event, it should be mentioned in the news; make sure to pick the most credible resources.
  • Check the sources used by books or articles written on the subject This way, you might find some ‘hidden gems’ that are difficult to google.

Don’t know if you’ll write a winning position paper? Follow the next steps closely. And don’t forget to explore the free samples available on this page, check their structure and style.

3. Draft a Position Paper Thesis

Thesis of a position paper is basically its foundation. Make it strong, and you’ll ensure your success. Don’t be too wordy. One sentence is enough to deliver your thesis and summarize your position on the topic. You can put it closer to the start or put it at the end of your introduction so that it summarizes the explanations you would give about the problem. Examples of a position paper thesis:

• Online education is cost-effective, being more affordable for both students and educational institutions. • Schools should offer low-income pupils summertime educational resources.

4. Create an Outline

Once you have decided about the direction you’re taking with your essay, proceed with the position essay outline. This step is often overlooked, but it will be much easier to find and correct mistakes and gaps at this early stage. So, writing a position paper outline actually saves you time. This is how to write a position paper outline:

  • Keep it brief, just one sentence per idea. No need to always use full sentences, just make them readable.
  • Include your thesis, mention the context, then write one sentence per each argument.
  • Briefly summarize it, one sentence will suffice as well.

Don’t forget to review your outline carefully.

5. Begin Writing Your Position Paper

Once you’ve ensured the outline of an essay doesn’t have any gaps or logical flaws, go ahead and complete the full-text version. If you wonder how to start a position paper at this stage, begin with the introduction. You already have its shortened draft, so just add necessary details and list explanations if needed. But don’t give particular arguments or refute opposing opinions yet, those should come in the main body part. See how to write an introductory paragraph for a position paper in the next section.

Position Paper Introduction Example

Looking for introduction position paper examples? We’ve got one for you. Here’s how you can start your essay:

Traditional education is commonly regarded as a better alternative since live interaction with teachers often facilitates the learning process. However, given the ever-growing problem with student loans, the affordability of online education has become an important factor. Additionally, when studying online, people don’t have to commute, thus saving extra time and money. So, we can see that online education is more effective for common students.

Check our sample position paper for introduction examples. They are available for free download.

6. Include Evidence in Your Position Paper

As we’ve already explained, position papers must be backed by solid evidence. You have to prove your point, and that requires addressing it with data, not just stating it with confidence. When you write your position paper, there are two main requirements for backing your claim:

  • collect valid and relevant data;
  • present it in your text properly.

Here’s an example of evidence in a position paper:

As shown by many researchers (particularly by Kim and Norton in their work, 2018), more than 60% of students in the US attend online courses on a regular basis.

7. Provide Counterarguments and Refute Them

Still learning how to write position paper? If it is your first one, consider an important fact: ignoring evident contradictions to your claim doesn’t add credibility. Instead, you must work with counter arguments which is similar to writing an argumentative essay . You may be aware of the opposite opinions or think and assume which objections your opponents would make. Better mention them in your essay and show how you counter these claims.  Here are some examples of counterarguments for position papers:

Evidently, e-learning doesn’t allow face-to-face interaction with your tutor, which may make it harder to exchange experience. However, the affordability factor still makes it a better choice, especially for motivated students. The price difference between traditional and online education might not be that big. But if we add the price of commuting and time spent on that, this difference becomes much bigger.

8. Summarize Your Position

When writing your position paper, it is important that you make it sound impressive in the end. Your position paper conclusion should properly summarize all arguments and rebuttal of counterarguments . Keep it brief, without repeating much, just highlight how all your findings support the claim. You can also add some extra notes, e.g., making additional assumptions, different predictions about this problem’s impact in the future, or hints about extra evidence you haven’t mentioned before to keep your text brief. This may help to make a lasting impression on your audience. Finally, review your conclusion once again, ensuring that it is logical and doesn’t contradict any claims, arguments, or assumptions provided above. Check the next section for an example of how to write a position paper conclusion.

Example of a Position Paper Conclusion

Need an actual conclusion for a position essay example? It can be something like this:

According to the statistical data presented above, e-learning is already gaining increasing popularity among students below 25 ages all over the globe. Since it is better compatible with the part-time work schedule most students have to follow, this format has actually proven its efficiency in recent years. And it is quite safe to assume it will become a new dominant way of education within the next decade or two.

You can also find the conclusion of a position paper essay example if you check the free samples that are available on this page.

9. Proofread Your Position Paper

After your position essay is complete, you absolutely should spend some extra time and review it again. Try adopting a critical view, putting yourself in your potential opponent’s shoes. Are there any logical gaps or grammar mistakes left? Paper position is not clear enough? Wrong source mentioned? Nearly every text has some issues to correct. Sometimes even evident typos are left overlooked when writing. It is best to have someone else review a position paper since its writer may be biased toward their own text. Another way is reading it aloud to yourself prior to submission. Some flaws may be uncovered this way too.

Position Paper Format

Your position papers format is another element that shouldn’t be overlooked. Proper headline and paragraph styles make your text more readable. Also, there might be specific requirements for making citations. All your evidence must be presented correctly so that it doesn’t get mixed with your own opinions. Format depends on the discipline. You might need to use one of the popular styles: MLA, APA, or Chicago. If you don’t see which one of them is required, better ask your tutor. You can find some position paper format sample in our free attachments, available below.

Position Paper Examples

Need an example of a position paper so that you could learn how all these recommendations can be implemented? We’ve got some for you! Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll find sample of position papers available for free download. Each position paper example essay has been written by professional research writers and can be used for inspiration or as a reference. Just don’t copy any of those materials in your own text, as you should only submit 100% original works. Position paper example 1 

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Position paper example 2

Position paper example 3

Position Paper Sample 4

Tips for Writing a Position Paper

Finally, some extra tips on writing a position paper that is really persuasive:

  • Choose topics that are interesting for you. This will motivate you to discuss them.
  • Plan ahead and consider your deadlines. Don’t spend too much time conducting the preliminary research or perfecting your argumentation if it is already valid.
  • Pay attention to your sources. Some books or research might be considered dubious by your opponents or might have some obvious gaps.
  • Review your position papers as many times as possible. Ideally, ask a person with an opposite side on this issue to read and refute it.
  • Keep it professional. Maintain a confident tone but stay logical and correct, avoid emotional or derogatory remarks.

More examples of position papers are available here – you can check them below.

Final Thoughts on How to Write a Position Paper

So, in order to write a position paper, you need to choose an appropriate topic and elaborate on your position regarding the specific problem. Then you should defend it using logic, facts, and confidence. Still not clear what are position papers and how one should write them? Check out this sample position paper for students available below, and you’ll find all our tips illustrated there. Follow its structure and style, just don’t copy anything to avoid plagiarizing.

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If you are stuck in any stage of the writing process, don’t hesitate to use professional academic writing services. StudyCrumb is always here for you to solve any academic challenge you may have. Let us know your task, and we will match you with the most fitting expert who can write an excellent position paper for you. 

FAQ About a Position Paper

1. how long should a position paper be.

The length of a position paper is usually limited to one page and a half (up to 350 words). Don’t make it too long, stick to the facts and brief statements. When given with confidence, concise claims are more persuasive. At the same time better include all necessary evidence, not rely just on confidence. So don’t make it less than one page.

2. What are the kinds of support in a position paper?

You can use these support types in your position paper:

  • Factual knowledge: either well-known facts (e.g., historical or biological) or data retrieved from credible sources;
  • Statistical trends: always helpful for making assumptions but also need to be backed by sources;
  • Informed opinion: citations from renowned specialists in fields related to your topic.

3. What is forbidden in a position paper?

When writing a position paper, avoid the following:

  •  Taking opinions for facts.
  • Using threats or derogatory language as a means of persuasion.
  • Comparing unrelated situations and making some conclusions from that.
  • Copying other works without citing them.

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Top 10 Tips for Writing a Strong Position Paper

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As scientists and researchers, you might be familiar with objective research papers, which tend to consider both sides of an argument and present findings based on facts. But are you aware of another important piece of academic writing known as the position paper? In this article, we will discuss different aspects that make position paper share expert tips on writing a great position paper that clearly presents an argument or opinion.

Table of Contents

What Is a Position Paper?

A position paper discusses a controversial issue and focuses on one aspect of an argument, providing valuable insights on how to interpret issues where science is ambiguous. It can also act as a medium for scientists and researchers to put forth solutions to resolve problems. Similar to objective research papers, position papers are still rooted in facts, statistics, evidence, and data. Additionally, they further enable authors to take a position on what these facts and data are telling us.

The purpose of a position paper is to gather support for an opinion on an issue by explaining the author’s stance and providing factual evidence to back it up. It critically evaluates the position, acknowledging its strengths and weaknesses.

Types of Position Paper

There are several types of position papers, each serving a unique purpose.

Ready to gauge your understanding of position papers? Take our short quiz today!

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How to Write a Position Paper?

1. choosing a good topic.

Selecting a good topic for your position paper is just as important as having a well-structured paper that presents a strong argument. A well-written paper about an uninteresting or uncontroversial topic is simply a waste of time and effort. So how can you best  choose a topic for your argument ?

Like all types of research, you should begin with preliminary research. A good topic for a position paper  will answer yes to the following questions :

  • Does the topic represent a genuine controversy?
  • Are there two clear positions?
  • Do you care enough to argue for one of those positions?
  • Is the scope of the topic manageable?

Once you have found a topic that meets these criteria, you will need to conduct research to build a solid case in favor of your argument. This means finding supporting evidence (for both sides!) just as you would for an ordinary  research paper . By including supporting evidence for the opposing side, you will be able to more clearly refute the conflicting arguments. In other words, you can point out weaknesses in the evidence cited by the opposing side or highlight strengths of evidence that supports your stand in comparison.

2. Conducting a Preliminary Research

Conducting preliminary research is crucial before delving into any topic. Evaluate evidence quality from reputable sources institutional websites, white papers, policies, scholarly articles, research reports, etc. Stay objective, dedicating some time for research. Be adaptable; reconsider your topic if evidence is lacking or contradictory. Prioritize quality over quantity in source selection. This ensures a well-supported and credible argument.

3. Crafting and Testing Your Thesis Statement

Crafting a thesis statement is a pivotal step in developing a coherent paper. This statement depicts your stance on the topic. A clear and focused thesis statement serves as the backbone of your argument, guiding the reader and shaping the trajectory of your analysis. Once established, subject it to rigorous examination by challenging it.

While it may seem counterintuitive, actively challenging your own thesis statement is a vital exercise in academic integrity and intellectual rigor. By earnestly considering opposing viewpoints and potential counterarguments, you not only demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter but also fortify your position through logical reasoning and evidence-based support.

4. Collecting Supporting Evidence

When gathering evidence for your position paper, prioritize relevance and credibility. Use expert quotes sparingly, ensuring they directly support your argument. Prefer research-based evidence over anecdotes, focusing on quality rather than quantity. Verify the credibility of sources and regularly update evidence to reflect the latest research. Following these guidelines enhances the credibility and persuasiveness of your paper.

5. Drafting and Structuring the Position paper

The structure of a position paper is flexible, but it should generally follow a simple flow that clearly conveys the problem and the position of the author(s). A position paper should  begin by clearly stating the problem  and  its relevance  to the scientific community or even to the society as a whole. It should then address the main position of the author. For example:

a. Background: For decades, the WHO has urged the adoption of a tax on unhealthy foods to discourage the consumption of products that are harmful to our health.

b. Relevance: Sugar has been shown to have a negative impact on health, and play a major role in the rising obesity rates in America.

c. Position: The United States should adopt a tax on drinks with added sugar, to reduce the consumption of sugar, and promote healthier eating habits.

The author should then  clearly list the common arguments and possible objections  against this position. To continue with our example:

Argument 1: A sugary drink tax that focuses on soda may not impact other products that have an equally negative health impact such as fruit juice or candy.

Argument 2: A sugary drink tax is regressive and places a financial burden on the poorest consumers.

A strong position paper  acknowledges the validity of the counter-arguments  and then puts forth reasons why the author’s position is still the correct one. In our example paper, the author can address the counter-arguments in the next section like so:

Counter-argument 1: It is true that a sugary drink tax would not impact all sources of added sugar in the average American diet. However, it would still have a significant impact on a major source of added sugar to achieve its goal of reducing overall sugar consumption.

Counter-argument 2: All consumption taxes are regressive. A sugary drink tax would be most effective accompanied by subsidies for healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.

Finally, summarize your main points and re-state your position in your conclusion. All arguments in the paper  should be backed up by facts, data, and evidence , with proper citation attributed to your sources. In this way, a position paper is no different from an ordinary research paper . If you wish, you can  include a brief literature review  in your discussion of the background of the issue. While such a  literature review  is not essential, it can make your paper stronger.

Ten Tips for Writing a Strong Position Paper

Now that we know what a position paper is, let us review some tips to write a great position paper.

  • Select a timely, relevant topic with two clear opposing sides.
  • Conduct thorough preliminary research,  collecting evidence supporting arguments for and against your position.
  • Identify your intended audience. You should tailor your tone depending on who the paper is written for (the public, other scientists, policymakers, etc.).
  • Clearly state your position on the topic.
  • List and refute the counter-arguments to your position.
  • Include supporting data and evidence to back up your argument.
  • Properly attribute your sources  using correct citation .
  • Keep it simple! Position papers  don’t need to go into excessive detail . Present your points clearly and briefly.
  • Each paragraph in the paper should discuss a single idea.
  • Have someone  proofread your paper to ensure it reads well and looks professional.

A position paper can be a great way to expand your horizons and write a new type of research paper. Use these ten tips to write an effective position paper!

Are you seeking advice on writing a position paper? Seek  professional assistance  to craft a compelling argument in your position paper that effectively communicates your perspective to the scientific community.

Frequently Asked Questions

The length of a position paper can vary depending on the requirements set by the institution or conference. However, typically, position papers are concise and focused documents, usually ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 words.

The purpose of a position paper is to articulate an author's stance on a particular issue or topic, backed by factual evidence and logical reasoning.

Characteristics of a position paper include: 1.Focus on a controversial issue or topic. 2.Clear statement of author's stance or position. 3.Incorporation of factual evidence, statistics, and data. 4.Acknowledgment of counterarguments and addressing them effectively. 5.Concise and well-structured presentation of arguments.

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What is a position paper and how to write it?

What is a position paper.

A  position paper  is an essay that presents a writer’s point of view, belief, and conviction on an issue. It is generally opinionated but contains factual details and evidence that strengthen the writer’s stand.

The purpose of a position paper is to generate support from the readers through strong and valid assertions. Thus, for a position to be convincing, the writer must make sure to include all sides of the issue, research details, strong evidence, and refutation of counterclaims. 

Steps in Writing a Position Paper

1. analyze an issue and make a stand. .

Choose an issue open to arguments. It should not be too general nor too specific that no supporting evidence can be made.

Once the issue has been selected, do comprehensive research and investigation. Explore all sides of the issue. Organize them by making a list of pros and cons.  Supporting evidence  may be gathered from sources such as books, academic journals, newspapers and magazines, reports, and even testimonies from experts. 

Once these steps have been observed, you can finally make a stand. In taking a position, make sure to consider the following:

  • Are you familiar with the issue’s pros and cons? 
  • Is your established position supported by research and factual details? 
  • Are there available research materials to prove your claims?

2. Organize your ideas and data in an outline. 

Develop your arguments by focusing on three points: general statement of the position, refutation of counterclaims, and supporting evidence of claims. These three main points must be identified in the outline. The outline serves as the framework of the entire paper. It organizes the thoughts and ideas of the author. 

The following outline structures your position paper: 

essay or position paper

3. Write the introduction, body, and conclusion. 

 Now that you have already made an outline, it will be easier to write your position paper.

Begin with the introduction . Since it is the first thing that readers read, the introduction must be catchy. It should capture the attention of the reader. Therefore, several strategies must be applied to begin the paragraph, such as the use of a rhetorical question, a quotation, anecdote, or simply a general statement that puts that topic in context. Furthermore, the introduction must identify the issue and provide a background about it. Most importantly, it should contain the position of the author expressed through a thesis statement. 

Develop your arguments in the body of your essay . Depending on your subtopics, the number of paragraphs varies. Usually, the first paragraph in the body contains the counterclaims about the issue. It is important for you to know the opposing stand’s arguments in order to convince your reader that you are well-informed on the many sides of the issue. In this way, you’ll persuade them to believe your position more. After the counter arguments have been presented and refuted, it is now time to present your own arguments. In presenting your own arguments, it is good that you assert at least three main points in your claims and defend them with your educated opinion and supporting evidence. 

End your paper with a conclusion . In this part, you summarize your points by restating your thesis statement. You may also suggest a plan of action but do not include new ideas or information. 

4. Revise, edit, and proofread. 

The writing state is not the ultimate step in writing a position paper. Revising, editing, and proofreading your work are vital to the paper’s completion.  Revision  is the process of improving the content of one’s work by changing some details presented in the paper. This is the stage when you add or remove some ideas or evidence.  Editing , on the other hand, concerns the writer’s organization of ideas and choice of words. When editing, cut out repetitive ideas, or add transition sentences or devices. This ensures that the message is conveyed clearly and concisely. The final and equally important step is  proofreading . When proofreading, you check for errors in grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.

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Position Paper Diagram

Elements of the position paper, writing & tutoring help at bowie.

An author who writes a position paper is making an argument which has to be built upon evidence.  The structure used to do this is very similar to that used when writing a critical essay.

Image taken from James Cook University Study Skills Online.  "Essay Structure." 17 August, 2012.  Retrieved from http://www.jcu.edu.au/tldinfo/writingskills/essay/structure.html.

The purpose of a position paper is to generate support on an issue. It describes the author’s position on an issue and the rational for that position and, in the same way that a research paper incorporates supportive evidence, is based on facts that provide a solid foundation for the author’s argument.  It is a critical examination of a position using facts and inductive reasoning, which addresses both strengths and weaknesses of the author’s opinion.  

The classic position paper contains three main elements:

An Introduction , which identifies the issue that will be discussed and states the author’s position on that issue.

The Body of the paper, which contains the central argument and can be further broken up into three unique sections:

     Background information

     Evidence supporting the author’s position

     A discussion of both sides of the issue, which addresses and   refutes arguments that contradict the author’s position 

A Conclusion , restating the key points and, where applicable, suggesting resolutions to the issue.             

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VII. Researched Writing

7.2 Researched Position Paper

Terri Pantuso

Now that you have found a topic to research, it is time to begin the research process. Though you may have an idea of what you think your argument will be at this point, it’s important to start your research with an open mind. It’s often helpful to formulate your topic as a research question. Research questions are open-ended questions that you explore as you figure out the direction your topic will go and inform or shape your thesis statement. For example, if your topic is on first-generation students and financial aid, you might have a research question such as “What is the long-term impact of student loans on first-generation college students?” Using such a question as you begin your research leaves you a lot of flexibility to adjust your position, and therefore your thesis, as you uncover new information.

Using that research question as the foundation for your research, you can begin your proposal. This is oftentimes the first step in the process of writing a researched position paper. Basically, a researched position paper is one where you take a stance on a chosen topic and defend your position with qualitative and quantitative research found in scholarly or academic sources. While you might also include popular sources, you’ll want to make certain you incorporate evidence from a body of scholars whose work can be used to support the position you are taking. The difference between a descriptive or narrative research paper and a position paper is the argument – you are doing more than simply reporting facts. In a researched position paper, you are placing yourself in dialogue with a scholarly community and taking a stance on a topic about which you feel strongly. The first formal step is the proposal.

A proposal is quite simply a method for thinking out loud on paper. While all instructors have their own specifications, typically a proposal is less formal than the rough draft and can range in length from ½-1 full page in length. In the proposal, you state the topic about which you are researching and why you are interested in it. Since this is the preliminary stage, it’s okay to say that you do not know if you can defend your chosen position. The proposal is the place to begin exploration. It’s a good place to talk about your research question and, based on the information that you’ve found so far, where your thesis begins to grow. Some instructors may ask that you also state what you know about the topic, what potential sources you might use, and what you think you need to learn before fully developing your selected topic. In some courses, the proposal serves as a written dialogue between students and instructors and provides some foundational plans for the research process.

The next step is the annotated bibliography. Later in this section, we detail for you how to write an annotated bibliography which is basically the step where you locate sources to defend your position and then summarize those sources for their strengths and weaknesses as applied to your topic.

After the annotated bibliography, the formal writing process begins with a first rough draft. Typically, you will be given a page length or word count specification within the assignment parameters so that you’ll have an idea of how much is expected of you at this stage. In the first rough draft, your focus should be on developing your thesis and supporting it throughout the body of your paper. While many students get stuck on the introduction, this isn’t really the place to start your research. For this stage of the paper, you want to make sure the content surrounding your topic is strong with topic sentences connecting back to the thesis in every paragraph.

Sometimes, your instructor may ask for a second rough draft before final submission. If so, this is the place for you to take feedback from a peer reviewer or writing center tutor and fine tune your essay. Use the feedback you receive to check that your position is consistently supported throughout the essay and that you are using evidence correctly to support your position. Reading the draft out loud can also help you find missing elements or spaces for enrichment before the final draft submission, or the backwards/reverse outlining method discussed in section 2.4 might be helpful.

The final draft will be your best polished effort at defending your chosen topic and position after going through the rhetorical strategies defined by your instructor. Depending upon style format, you may or may not need an abstract in the final draft. An abstract is a brief summary of the topic you are discussing in the paper, but it does not give your conclusion. At the end of your final draft you’ll need to include your Works Cited/References page. This will be easily compiled from your annotated bibliography but remember – the annotations do NOT go into the final Works Cited/References page. Only the citations are included in the final draft. Keep in mind that nothing is ever perfect, but you want to strive to present a solid essay that utilizes scholarly, peer reviewed sources to defend and support the position you are taking on your chosen topic. For the rest of this section, we will provide information on how to find the best sources for your paper as well as how to develop the annotated bibliography.

A statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes an argument that will later be explained, expanded upon, and developed in a longer essay or research paper. In undergraduate writing, a thesis statement is often found in the introductory paragraph of an essay. The plural of thesis is theses .

Research that is based on the interpretation of open-ended, non-numeric data, such as writings, interviews, focus groups, and surveys.

Research that is based on numerical data and analyzing it using statistical or mathematical analyses.

When something is described as scholarly, that means that has been written by and for the academic community. The term scholarly is commonly used as shorthand to indicate that information that has been peer reviewed  or examined by other experts of the same academic field or discipline. Sometimes, the terms academic, scholarly, and peer reviewed are confused as synonyms; peer reviewed is a narrower term referring to an item that has been reviewed by experts in the field prior to publication, while academic is a broader term that also includes works that are written by and for academics, but that have not been peer reviewed.

The sentence that relays the main idea or the point of the paragraph in which it is contained; usually the first sentence of a body paragraph which gives the reader an idea of what ideas will be discussed in that paragraph.

7.2 Researched Position Paper Copyright © 2022 by Terri Pantuso is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate brainstorming processes and tools as means to discover topics, ideas, positions, and details.
  • Apply recursive strategies for organizing drafting, collaborating, peer reviewing, revising, rewriting, and editing.
  • Compose a position argument that integrates the writer’s ideas with those from appropriate sources.
  • Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress.
  • Apply or challenge common conventions of language or grammar in composing and revising.

Now is the time to try your hand at writing a position argument. Your instructor may provide some possible topics or a singular topic. If your instructor allows you to choose your own topic, consider a general subject you feel strongly about and whether you can provide enough support to develop that subject into an essay. For instance, suppose you think about a general subject such as “adulting.” In looking back at what you have learned while becoming an adult, you think of what you wish you had known during your early teenage years. These thoughts might lead you to brainstorm about details of the effects of money in your life or your friends’ lives. In reviewing your brainstorming, you might zero in on one topic you feel strongly about and think it provides enough depth to develop into a position argument. Suppose your brainstorming leads you to think about negative financial concerns you or some of your friends have encountered. Thinking about what could have helped address those concerns, you decide that a mandated high school course in financial literacy would have been useful. This idea might lead you to formulate your working thesis statement —first draft of your thesis statement—like this: To help students learn how to make sensible financial decisions, a mandatory class in financial literacy should be offered in high schools throughout the country.

Once you decide on a topic and begin moving through the writing process, you may need to fine-tune or even change the topic and rework your initial idea. This fine-tuning may come as you brainstorm, later when you begin drafting, or after you have completed a draft and submitted it to your peers for constructive criticism. These possibilities occur because the writing process is recursive —that is, it moves back and forth almost simultaneously and maybe even haphazardly at times, from planning to revising to editing to drafting, back to planning, and so on.

Summary of Assignment

Write a position argument on a controversial issue that you choose or that your instructor assigns to you. If you are free to choose your own topic, consider one of the following:

  • The legal system would be strengthened if ______________________.
  • The growing use of technology in college classrooms is weakening _____________.
  • For safety reasons, public signage should be _________________.
  • For entrance into college, standardized testing _________________________.
  • In relation to the cost of living, the current minimum wage _______________________.
  • During a pandemic, America __________________________.
  • As a requirement to graduate, college students __________________________.
  • To guarantee truthfulness of their content, social media platforms have the right to _________________.
  • To ensure inclusive and diverse representation of people of all races, learning via virtual classrooms _________________.
  • Segments of American cultures have differing rules of acceptable grammar, so in a college classroom ___________________.

In addition, if you have the opportunity to choose your own topic and wish to search further, take the lead from trailblazer Charles Blow and look to media for newsworthy “trends.” Find a controversial issue that affects you or people you know, and take a position on it. As you craft your argument, identify a position opposing yours, and then refute it with reasoning and evidence. Be sure to gather information on the issue so that you can support your position sensibly with well-developed ideas and evidence.

Another Lens. To gain a different perspective on your issue, consider again the people affected by it. Your position probably affects different people in different ways. For example, if you are writing that the minimum wage should be raised, then you might easily view the issue through the lens of minimum-wage workers, especially those who struggle to make ends meet. However, if you look at the issue through the lens of those who employ minimum-wage workers, your viewpoint might change. Depending on your topic and thesis, you may need to use print or online sources to gain insight into different perspectives.

For additional information about minimum-wage workers, you could consult

  • printed material available in your college library;
  • databases in your college library; and
  • pros and cons of raising the minimum wage;
  • what happens after the minimum wage is raised;
  • how to live on a minimum-wage salary;
  • how a raise in minimum wage is funded; and
  • minimum wage in various U.S. states.

To gain more insight about your topic, adopt a stance that opposes your original position and brainstorm ideas from that viewpoint. Begin by gathering evidence that would help you refute your previous stance and appeal to your audience.

Quick Launch: Working Thesis Frames and Organization of Ideas

After you have decided on your topic, the next step is to arrive at your working thesis. You probably have a good idea of the direction your working thesis will take. That is, you know where you stand on the issue or problem, but you are not quite sure of how to word your stance to share it with readers. At this point, then, use brainstorming to think critically about your position and to discover the best way to phrase your statement.

For example, after reading an article discussing different state-funded community college programs, one student thought that a similar program was needed in Alabama, her state. However, she was not sure how the program worked. To begin, she composed and answered “ reporters’ questions ” such as these:

  • What does a state-funded community college program do? pays for part or all of the tuition of a two-year college student
  • Who qualifies for the program? high school graduates and GED holders
  • Who benefits from this? students needing financial assistance, employers, and Alabama residents
  • Why is this needed? some can’t afford to go to college; tuition goes up every year; colleges would be more diverse if everyone who wanted to go could afford to go
  • Where would the program be available? at all public community colleges
  • When could someone apply for the program? any time
  • How can the state fund this ? use lottery income, like other states

The student then reviewed her responses, altered her original idea to include funding through a lottery, and composed this working thesis:

student sample text To provide equal educational opportunities for all residents, the state of Alabama should create a lottery to completely fund tuition at community colleges. end student sample text

Remember that a strong thesis for a position should

  • state your stance on a debatable issue;
  • reflect your purpose of persuasion; and
  • be based on your opinion or observation.

When you first consider your topic for an argumentative work, think about the reasoning for your position and the evidence you will need—that is, think about the “because” part of your argument. For instance, if you want to argue that your college should provide free Wi-Fi for every student, extend your stance to include “because” and then develop your reasoning and evidence. In that case, your argument might read like this: Ervin Community College should provide free Wi-Fi for all students because students may not have Internet access at home.

Note that the “because” part of your argument may come at the beginning or the end and may be implied in your wording.

As you develop your thesis, you may need help funneling all of your ideas. Return to the possibilities you have in mind, and select the ideas that you think are strongest, that recur most often, or that you have the most to say about. Then use those ideas to fill in one of the following sentence frames to develop your working thesis. Feel free to alter the frame as necessary to fit your position. While there is no limit to the frames that are possible, these may help get you started.

________________ is caused/is not caused by ________________, and _____________ should be done.

Example: A declining enrollment rate in college is caused by high tuition rates, and an immediate freeze on the cost of tuition should be applied.

______________ should/should not be allowed (to) ________________ for a number of reasons.

Example: People who do not wear masks during a pandemic should not be allowed to enter public buildings for a number of reasons.

Because (of) ________________, ___________________ will happen/continue to happen.

Example: Because of a lack of emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) education in public schools, America will continue to lag behind many other countries.

_____________ is similar to/nothing like ________________ because ______________.

Example: College classes are nothing like high school classes because in college, more responsibility is on the student, the classes are less frequent but more intense, and the work outside class takes more time to complete.

______________ can be/cannot be thought of as __________________ because ______________.

Example: The Black Lives Matter movement can be thought of as an extension of the Civil Rights movement from the 1950s and 1960s because it shares the same mission of fighting racism and ending violence against Black people.

Next, consider the details you will need to support your thesis. The Aristotelian argument structure, named for the Greek philosopher Aristotle , is one that may help you frame the draft of your position argument. For this method, use something like the following chart. In Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument, you will find a similar organizer that you can copy and use for your assignment.

Drafting: Rhetorical Appeals and Types of Supporting Evidence

To persuade your audience to support your position or argument, consider various rhetorical appeals— ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos—and the types of evidence to support your sound reasoning. See Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking for more information on reasoning strategies and types of evidence.

Rhetorical Appeals

To establish your credibility, to show readers you are trustworthy, to win over their hearts, and to set your issue in an appropriate time frame to influence readers, consider how you present and discuss your evidence throughout the paper.

  • Appeal to ethos . To establish credibility in her paper arguing for expanded mental health services, a student writer used these reliable sources: a student survey on mental health issues, data from the International Association of Counseling Services (a professional organization), and information from an interview with a campus mental health counselor.
  • Appeal to logos . To support her sound reasoning, the student writer approached the issue rationally, using data and credible evidence to explain the current situation and its effects.
  • Appeal to pathos . To show compassion and arouse audience empathy, the student writer shared the experience of a student on her campus who struggled with anxiety and depression.
  • Appeal to kairos . To appeal to kairos, the student emphasized the immediate need for these services, as more students are now aware of their particular mental health issues and trying to deal with them.

The way in which you present and discuss your evidence will reflect the appeals you use. Consider using sentence frames to reflect specific appeals. Remember, too, that sentence frames can be composed in countless ways. Here are a few frames to get you thinking critically about how to phrase your ideas while considering different types of appeals.

Appeal to ethos: According to __________________, an expert in ______________, __________________ should/should not happen because ________________________.

Appeal to ethos: Although ___________________is not an ideal situation for _________________, it does have its benefits.

Appeal to logos: If ____________________ is/is not done, then understandably, _________________ will happen.

Appeal to logos: This information suggests that ____________________ needs to be investigated further because ____________________________.

Appeal to pathos: The story of _____________________ is uplifting/heartbreaking/hopeful/tragic and illustrates the need for ____________________.

Appeal to pathos: ___________________ is/are suffering from ________________, and that is something no one wants.

Appeal to kairos: _________________ must be addressed now because ________________ .

Appeal to kairos: These are times when ______________ ; therefore, _____________ is appropriate/necessary.

Types of Supporting Evidence

Depending on the point you are making to support your position or argument, certain types of evidence may be more effective than others. Also, your instructor may require you to include a certain type of evidence. Choose the evidence that will be most effective to support the reasoning behind each point you make to support your thesis statement. Common types of evidence are these:

Renada G., a junior at Powell College South, worked as a waitress for 15 hours a week during her first three semesters of college. But in her sophomore year, when her parents were laid off during the pandemic, Renada had to increase her hours to 35 per week and sell her car to stay in school. Her grades started slipping, and she began experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. When she called the campus health center to make an appointment for counseling, Renada was told she would have to wait two weeks before she could be seen.
Here is part of how Lyndon B. Johnson defined the Great Society: “But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.”
Bowen Lake is nestled in verdant foothills, lush with tall grasses speckled with wildflowers. Around the lake, the sweet scent of the purple and yellow flowers fills the air, and the fragrance of the hearty pines sweeps down the hillsides in a westerly breeze. Wood frogs’ and crickets’ songs suddenly stop, as the blowing of moose calling their calves echoes across the lake’s soundless surface. Or this was the scene before the deadly destruction of fires caused by climate change.
When elaborating on America’s beauty being in danger, Johnson says, “The water we drink, the food we eat, the very air that we breathe, are threatened with pollution. Our parks are overcrowded, our seashores overburdened. Green fields and dense forests are disappearing.”
Speaking about President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War, noted historian and Johnson biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin said, “It seemed the hole in his heart from the loss of work was too big to fill.”
Charles Blow has worked at the Shreveport Times , The Detroit News , National Geographic , and The New York Times .
When interviewed by George Rorick and asked about the identities of his readers, Charles Blow said that readers’ emails do not elaborate on descriptions of who the people are. However, “the kinds of comments that they offer are very much on the thesis of the essay.”
In his speech, Lyndon B. Johnson says, “The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents.”
To support the need for change in classrooms, Johnson uses these statistics: “Each year more than 100,000 high school graduates, with proved ability, do not enter college because they cannot afford it. And if we cannot educate today’s youth, what will we do in 1970 when elementary school enrollment will be five million greater than 1960?”
  • Visuals : graphs, photographs, charts, or maps used in addition to written or spoken information.

Brainstorm for Supporting Points

Use one or more brainstorming techniques, such as a web diagram as shown in Figure 10.8 or the details generated from “because” statements, to develop ideas or particular points in support of your thesis. Your goal is to get as many ideas as possible. At this time, do not be concerned about how ideas flow, whether you will ultimately use an idea (you want more ideas than will end up in your finished paper), spelling, or punctuation.

When you have finished, look over your brainstorming. Then circle three to five points to incorporate into your draft. Also, plan to answer “ reporters’ questions ” to provide readers with any needed background information. For example, the student writing about the need for more mental health counselors on her campus created and answered these questions:

What is needed? More mental health counseling is needed for Powell College South.

Who would benefit from this? The students and faculty would benefit.

  • Why is this needed? The college does not have enough counselors to meet all students’ needs.
  • Where are more counselors needed? More counselors are needed at the south campus.
  • When are the counselors needed? Counselors need to be hired now and be available both day and night to accommodate students’ schedules.
  • How can the college afford this ? Instead of hiring daycare workers, the college could use students and faculty from the Early Childhood Education program to run the program and use the extra money to pay the counselors.

Using Logic

In a position argument, the appropriate use of logic is especially important for readers to trust what you write. It is also important to look for logic in material you read and possibly cite in your paper so that you can determine whether writers’ claims are reasonable. Two main categories of logical thought are inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning .

  • Inductive reasoning moves from specific to broad ideas. You begin by collecting details, observations, incidents, or facts; examining them; and drawing a conclusion from them. Suppose, for example, you are writing about attendance in college classes. For three weeks, you note the attendance numbers in all your Monday, Wednesday, and Friday classes (specific details), and you note that attendance is lower on Friday than on the other days (a specific detail). From these observations, you determine that many students prefer not to attend classes on Fridays (your conclusion).
  • Deductive reasoning moves from general to specific ideas. You begin with a hypothesis or premise , a general concept, and then examine possibilities that would lead to a specific and logical conclusion. For instance, suppose you think that opportunities for foreign students at your college are inadequate (general concept). You examine the specific parts of that concept (e.g., whether your college provides multicultural clubs, help with language skills, or work-study opportunities) and determine that those opportunities are not available. You then determine that opportunities for foreign students are lacking at your college.

Logical Fallacies and Propaganda

Fallacies are mistakes in logic. Readers and writers should be aware of these when they creep into writing, indicating that the points the writers make may not be valid. Two common fallacies are hasty generalizations and circular arguments. See Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies for more on logical fallacies.

  • A hasty generalization is a conclusion based on either inadequate or biased evidence. Consider this statement: “Two students in Math 103 were nervous before their recent test; therefore, all students in that class must have text anxiety.” This is a hasty generalization because the second part of the statement (the generalization about all students in the class) is inadequate to support what the writer noted about only two students.
  • A circular argument is one that merely restates what has already been said. Consider this statement: “ The Hate U Give is a well-written book because Angie Thomas, its author, is a good novelist.” The statement that Thomas is a good novelist does not explain why her book is well written.

In addition to checking work for fallacies, consider propaganda , information worded so that it endorses a particular viewpoint, often of a political nature. Two common types of propaganda are bandwagon and fear .

  • In getting on the bandwagon , the writer encourages readers to conform to a popular trend and endorse an opinion, a movement, or a person because everyone else is doing so. Consider this statement: “Everyone is behind the idea that 7 a.m. classes are too early and should be changed to at least 8 a.m. Shouldn’t you endorse this sensible idea, too?”
  • In using fear, the writer presents a dire situation, usually followed by what could be done to prevent it. Consider this statement: “Our country is at a turning point. Enemies threaten us with their power, and our democracy is at risk of being crushed. The government needs a change, and Paul Windhaus is just the man to see we get that change.” This quotation appeals to fear about the future of the country and implies that electing a certain individual will solve the predicted problems.

Organize the Paper

To begin, write your thesis at the top of a blank page. Then select points from your brainstorming and reporters’ questions to organize and develop support for your thesis. Keep in mind that you can revise your thesis whenever needed.

To begin organizing her paper on increased mental health services on her college campus, the student wrote this thesis at the top of a page:

student sample text Because mental health is a major concern at Powell College South, students could benefit from expanding the services offered . end student sample text

Next she decided the sequence in which to present the points. In a position or an argument essay, she could choose one of two methods: thesis-first organization or delayed-thesis organization.

Thesis-First Organization

Leading with a thesis tells readers from the beginning where you stand on the issue. In this organization, the thesis occupies both the first and last position in the essay, making it easy for readers to remember.

Introduce the issue and assert your thesis. Make sure the issue has at least two debatable sides. Your thesis establishes the position from which you will argue. Writers often state their thesis as the last sentence in the first paragraph, as the student writer has done:

student sample text The problem of mental health has become front-page news in the last two months. Hill’s Herald , Powell College South’s newspaper, reported 14 separate incidents of students who sought counseling but could not get appointments with college staff. Since mental health problems are widespread among the student population, the college should hire more health care workers to address this problem. end student sample text

Summarize the counterclaims . Before elaborating on your claims, explain the opposition’s claims. Including this information at the beginning gives your argument something to focus on—and refute—throughout the paper. If you ignore counterclaims, your argument may appear incomplete, and readers may think you have not researched your topic sufficiently. When addressing a counterclaim, state it clearly, show empathy for those who have that view, and then immediately refute it with support developed through reasoning and evidence. Squeezing the counterclaims between the thesis and the evidence reserves the strongest places—the opening and closing—for your position.

student sample text Counterclaim 1 : Powell College South already employs two counselors, and that number is sufficient to meet the needs of the student population. end student sample text

student sample text Counterclaim 2 : Students at Powell College South live in a metropolitan area large enough to handle their mental health needs. end student sample text

Refute the counterclaims. Look for weak spots in the opposition’s argument, and point them out. Use your opponent’s language to show you have read closely but still find problems with the claim. This is the way the writer refuted the first counterclaim:

student sample text While Powell College South does employ two counselors, those counselors are overworked and often have no time slots available for students who wish to make appointments. end student sample text

State and explain your points, and then support them with evidence. Present your points clearly and precisely, using Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking to explain and cite your evidence. The writer plans to use a problem-solution reasoning strategy to elaborate on these three points using these pieces of evidence:

student sample text Point 1: Wait times are too long. end student sample text

student sample text Kay Payne, one of the campus counselors, states that the wait time for an appointment with her is approximately 10 days. end student sample text

student sample text Point 2: Mental health issues are widespread within the student community. end student sample text

student sample text In a recent on-campus student survey, 75 percent of 250 students say they have had some kind of mental health issues at some point in their life. end student sample text

student sample text Point 3: The staff-to-student ratio is too high. end student sample text

student sample text The International Accreditation of Counseling Services states that the recommended ratio is one full-time equivalent staff member for every 1,000 to 1,500 students. end student sample text

Restate your position as a conclusion. Near the end of your paper, synthesize your accumulated evidence into a broad general position, and restate your thesis in slightly different language.

student sample text The number of students who need mental health counseling is alarming. The recent news articles that attest to their not being able to schedule appointments add to the alarm. While Powell College South offers some mental health counseling, the current number of counselors and others who provide health care is insufficient to handle the well-being of all its students. Action must be taken to address this problem. end student sample text

Delayed-Thesis Organization

In this organizational pattern, introduce the issue and discuss the arguments for and against it, but wait to take a side until late in the essay. By delaying the stance, you show readers you are weighing the evidence, and you arouse their curiosity about your position. Near the end of the paper, you explain that after carefully considering both pros and cons, you have arrived at the most reasonable position.

Introduce the issue. Here, the writer begins with action that sets the scene of the problem.

student sample text Tapping her foot nervously, Serena looked at her watch again. She had been waiting three hours to see a mental health counselor at Powell College South, and she did not think she could wait much longer. She had to get to work. end student sample text

Summarize the claims for one position. Before stating which side you support, explain how the opposition views the issue. This body paragraph presents evidence about the topic of more counselors:

student sample text Powell College South has two mental health counselors on staff. If the college hires more counselors, more office space will have to be created. Currently Pennington Hall could accommodate those counselors. Additional counselors would allow more students to receive counseling. end student sample text

Refute the claims you just stated. Still not stating your position, point out the other side of the issue.

student sample text While office space is available in Pennington Hall, that location is far from ideal. It is in a wooded area of campus, six blocks from the nearest dorm. Students who would go there might be afraid to walk through the woods or might be afraid to walk that distance. The location might deter them from making appointments. end student sample text

Now give the best reasoning and evidence to support your position. Because this is a delayed-thesis organization, readers are still unsure of your stance. This section should be the longest and most carefully documented part of the paper. After summarizing and refuting claims, the writer then elaborates on these three points using problem-solution reasoning supported by this evidence as discussed in Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking, implying her position before moving to the conclusion, where she states her thesis.

student sample text The International Association of Counseling Services states that one full-time equivalent staff member for every 1,000 to 1,500 students is the recommended ratio. end student sample text

State your thesis in your conclusion. Your rhetorical strategy is this: after giving each side a fair hearing, you have arrived at the most reasonable conclusion.

student sample text According to the American Psychological Association, more than 40 percent of all college students suffer from some form of anxiety. Powell College South students are no different from college students elsewhere: they deserve to have adequate mental health counseling. end student sample text

Drafting begins when you organize your evidence or research notes and then put them into some kind of written form. As you write, focus on building body paragraphs through the techniques presented in Reasoning Strategies: Improving Critical Thinking that show you how to support your position and then add evidence. Using a variety of evidence types builds credibility with readers. Remember that the recursiveness of the writing process allows you to move from composing to gathering evidence and back to brainstorming ideas or to organizing your draft at any time. Move around the writing process as needed.

Keep in mind that a first draft is just a beginning—you will revise it into a better work in later drafts. Your first draft is sometimes called a discovery draft because you are discovering how to shape your paper: which ideas to include and how to support those ideas. These suggestions and graphic organizer may be helpful for your first draft:

  • Write your thesis at the top of the paper.
  • Compose your body paragraphs: those that support your argument through reasoning strategies and those that address counterclaims.
  • Leave your introduction, conclusion, and title for later drafts.

Use a graphic organizer like Table 10.1 to focus points, reasoning, and evidence for body paragraphs. You are free to reword your thesis, reasoning, counterclaim(s), refutation of counterclaim(s), concrete evidence, and explanation/elaboration/clarification at any time. You are also free to adjust the order in which you present your reasoning, counterclaim(s), and refuting of counterclaim(s).

Develop a Writing Project through Multiple Drafts

Your first draft is a kind of experiment in which you are concerned with ideas and with getting the direction and concept of the paper clear. Do not think that your first draft must be perfect; remind yourself that you are just honing your work. In most serious writing, every phase of the process can be considered recursive, helping you shape the best paper possible.

Peer Review: Critical Thinking and Counterclaims

After you have completed the first draft, begin peer review. Peer reviewers can use these sentence starters when thinking critically about overall strengths and developmental needs.

  • One point about your position that I think is strong is ______ because ________.
  • One point about your position that I think needs more development is _____ because _______.
  • One area that I find confusing is _____________; I was confused about _______.
  • One major point that I think needs more explanation or detail is _______.
  • In my opinion, the purpose of your paper is to persuade readers _______.
  • In my opinion, the audience for your paper is _______.
  • One area of supporting evidence that I think could use more development is _______.
  • One counterclaim you include is ________________.
  • Your development of the counterclaim is __________________ because ________________.

Refuting Counterclaims

Peer reviewers are especially helpful with position and argument writing when it comes to refuting counterclaims. Have your peer reviewer read your paper again and look for supporting points and ideas to argue against , trying to break down your argument. Then ask your reviewer to discuss the counterclaims and corresponding points or ideas in your paper. This review will give you the opportunity to think critically about ways to refute the counterclaims your peer reviewer suggests.

As preparation for peer review, match each of the following arguments with their counterarguments.

Revising: Reviewing a Draft and Responding to Counterclaims

Revising means reseeing, rereading, and rethinking your thoughts on paper until they fully match your intention. Mentally, it is conceptual work focused on units of meaning larger than the sentence. Physically, it is cutting, pasting, deleting, and rewriting until the ideas are satisfying. Be ready to spend a great deal of time revising your drafts, adding new information and incorporating sources smoothly into your prose.

The Revising Process

To begin revising, return to the basic questions of topic ( What am I writing about? ), purpose ( Why am I writing about this topic? ), audience ( For whom am I writing? ), and culture ( What is the background of the people for whom I am writing? ).

  • What is the general scope of my topic? __________________________________
  • What is my thesis? __________________________________________________
  • Does my thesis focus on my topic? ______________________________________
  • Does my thesis clearly state my position? ______________________
  • What do I hope to accomplish in writing about this topic? ____________________
  • Do all parts of the paper advance this purpose? ____________________________
  • Does my paper focus on my argument or position? _________________________
  • What does my audience know about this subject? _______________________
  • What does my audience need to know to understand the point of my paper? _______________________________________________________________

What questions or objections do I anticipate from my audience? ___________

________________________________________________________________

  • What is the culture of the people for whom I am writing? Do all readers share the same culture? ________________________________________________________

How do my beliefs, values, and customs differ from those of my audience?

____________________________________________________________________

  • How do the cultures of the authors of sources I cite differ from my culture or the culture(s) of my audience? ______________________________________________

Because of the recursivity of the writing process, returning to these questions will help you fine-tune the language and structure of your writing and target the support you develop for your audience.

Responding to Counterclaims

The more complex the issue, the more opposing sides it may have. For example, a writer whose position is that Powell College South Campus should offer daycare to its students with children might find opposition for different reasons. Someone may oppose the idea out of concern for cost; someone else may support the idea if the daycare is run on a volunteer basis; someone else may support the idea if the services are offered off campus.

As you revise, continue studying your peer reviewer’s comments about counterclaims. If you agree with any counterclaim, then say so in the paragraph in which you address counterclaims. This agreement will further establish your credibility by showing your fairness and concern for the issue. Look over your paper and peer review comments, and then consider these questions:

  • In what ways do you address realistic counterclaims? What other counterclaims should you address? Should you add to or replace current counterclaims?
  • In what ways do you successfully refute counterclaims? What other refutations might you include?
  • Are there any counterclaims with which you agree? If so, how do you concede to them in your paper? In what ways does your discussion show fairness?

After completing your peer review and personal assessment, make necessary revisions based on these notes. See Annotated Student Sample an example of a student’s argumentative research essay. Note how the student

  • presents the argument;
  • supports the viewpoint with reasoning and evidence;
  • includes support in the form of facts, opinions, paraphrases, and summaries;
  • provides citations (correctly formatted) about material from other sources in the paper;
  • uses ethos, pathos, and logos throughout the paper; and
  • addresses counterclaims (dissenting opinions).

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Chelsea prepared to sell Reece James and Conor Gallagher this summer - Paper Talk

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Chelsea are preparing to sell the England internationals Reece James and Conor Gallagher this summer in an attempt to bring the club's strained Financial Fair Play position into line.

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Manchester United will allow Christian Eriksen to leave Old Trafford this summer as one of the first casualties of the club's desire to build a younger squad.

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FIFA is likely to come under increased pressure from human rights organisations after 12 people were jailed for religious chanting during matches in Saudi Arabia, the likely 2034 World Cup host nation.

Tottenham are likely to need another solution for club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele this summer with current loan club Galatasaray expected to pass on their £13m buy option for the midfielder.

Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah is cashing in off the field with a reported £5.4m in profit coming from his commercial deals on top of his £400,000 weekly wage.

Chesterfield coach Kieron Dyer has admitted his thoughts turned straight to the person whose sad passing allowed him to undergo a life-saving liver transplant last year after the Spireites secured promotion back to the EFL.

England fans have been warned of a new terror threat for Euro 2024. The Islamist attack in Moscow has raised "dangers to a new level", said German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, just 75 days before kick-off.

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Declan Rice has claimed he is playing for a new Arsenal who are ready to change what people say about them.

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West Ham fans criticised Kalvin Phillips on social media after his forgettable appearance off the bench in the 4-3 defeat at Newcastle with one claiming he could be "the worst loan signing of all time".

Disgraced former Netherlands footballer Quincy Promes is reported to be enduring brutal living conditions in a United Arab Emirates prison while he waits to find out if he will be sent back to Russia or extradited to his home nation to begin a jail term for smuggling cocaine.

MAIL ON SUNDAY

Kalvin Phillips reacted with obscenities and a lewd gesture after he faced abuse from angry West Ham fans as he boarded the team coach following Saturday's 4-3 defeat by Newcastle United.

Research has revealed Manchester City would lead the Premier League by five points if no added time had been played this season with Chelsea down in a lowly 13th place

Jesse Lingard's first start for FC Seoul looks like being delayed as he is struggling with a knee injury ahead of their clash with Gangwon on Sunday and might not feature at all.

SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Liverpool star Conor Bradley has revealed it was Real Madrid-era Gareth Bale who he idolised as a footballer while he was growing up.

Bath will lodge complaints with the Premiership Rugby and RFU after controversy during their clash with Harlequins on Saturday when the hosts' Irne Herbst's sin-bin period lasted only seven minutes rather than the scheduled 10.

Oxford rower Leonard Jenkins complained of an outbreak of E.Coli in the camp after defeat against Boat Race rivals Cambridge

SUNDAY EXPRESS

Manchester United will not sway from appointing Dan Ashworth as their next sporting director despite his current club Newcastle digging their heels in over any deal.

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Excitement is growing that Arsenal have found their next young star after 14-year-old prodigy Max Dowman made a dazzling appearance for their U18 side in a 5-2 win over Fulham on Saturday.

SUNDAY MAIL

Celtic face a club versus country row with South Korea after Hyeon-Jun Yang was named in their Olympic squad for the Asian U23 Cup next month despite previous hints from manager Sun-Hong Hwang that he would be omitted.

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Announcing the NeurIPS 2023 Paper Awards 

Communications Chairs 2023 2023 Conference awards , neurips2023

By Amir Globerson, Kate Saenko, Moritz Hardt, Sergey Levine and Comms Chair, Sahra Ghalebikesabi 

We are honored to announce the award-winning papers for NeurIPS 2023! This year’s prestigious awards consist of the Test of Time Award plus two Outstanding Paper Awards in each of these three categories: 

  • Two Outstanding Main Track Papers 
  • Two Outstanding Main Track Runner-Ups 
  • Two Outstanding Datasets and Benchmark Track Papers  

This year’s organizers received a record number of paper submissions. Of the 13,300 submitted papers that were reviewed by 968 Area Chairs, 98 senior area chairs, and 396 Ethics reviewers 3,540  were accepted after 502 papers were flagged for ethics reviews . 

We thank the awards committee for the main track: Yoav Artzi, Chelsea Finn, Ludwig Schmidt, Ricardo Silva, Isabel Valera, and Mengdi Wang. For the Datasets and Benchmarks track, we thank Sergio Escalera, Isabelle Guyon, Neil Lawrence, Dina Machuve, Olga Russakovsky, Hugo Jair Escalante, Deepti Ghadiyaram, and Serena Yeung. Conflicts of interest were taken into account in the decision process.

Congratulations to all the authors! See Posters Sessions Tue-Thur in Great Hall & B1-B2 (level 1).

Outstanding Main Track Papers

Privacy Auditing with One (1) Training Run Authors: Thomas Steinke · Milad Nasr · Matthew Jagielski

Poster session 2: Tue 12 Dec 5:15 p.m. — 7:15 p.m. CST, #1523

Oral: Tue 12 Dec 3:40 p.m. — 4:40 p.m. CST, Room R06-R09 (level 2)

Abstract: We propose a scheme for auditing differentially private machine learning systems with a single training run. This exploits the parallelism of being able to add or remove multiple training examples independently. We analyze this using the connection between differential privacy and statistical generalization, which avoids the cost of group privacy. Our auditing scheme requires minimal assumptions about the algorithm and can be applied in the black-box or white-box setting. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework by applying it to DP-SGD, where we can achieve meaningful empirical privacy lower bounds by training only one model. In contrast, standard methods would require training hundreds of models.

Are Emergent Abilities of Large Language Models a Mirage? Authors: Rylan Schaeffer · Brando Miranda · Sanmi Koyejo

Poster session 6: Thu 14 Dec 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. CST, #1108

Oral: Thu 14 Dec 3:20 p.m. — 3:35 p.m. CST, Hall C2 (level 1) 

Abstract: Recent work claims that large language models display emergent abilities, abilities not present in smaller-scale models that are present in larger-scale models. What makes emergent abilities intriguing is two-fold: their sharpness, transitioning seemingly instantaneously from not present to present, and their unpredictability , appearing at seemingly unforeseeable model scales. Here, we present an alternative explanation for emergent abilities: that for a particular task and model family, when analyzing fixed model outputs, emergent abilities appear due to the researcher’s choice of metric rather than due to fundamental changes in model behavior with scale. Specifically, nonlinear or discontinuous metrics produce apparent emergent abilities, whereas linear or continuous metrics produce smooth, continuous, predictable changes in model performance. We present our alternative explanation in a simple mathematical model, then test it in three complementary ways: we (1) make, test and confirm three predictions on the effect of metric choice using the InstructGPT/GPT-3 family on tasks with claimed emergent abilities, (2) make, test and confirm two predictions about metric choices in a meta-analysis of emergent abilities on BIG-Bench; and (3) show how to choose metrics to produce never-before-seen seemingly emergent abilities in multiple vision tasks across diverse deep networks. Via all three analyses, we provide evidence that alleged emergent abilities evaporate with different metrics or with better statistics, and may not be a fundamental property of scaling AI models.

Outstanding Main Track Runner-Ups

Scaling Data-Constrained Language Models Authors : Niklas Muennighoff · Alexander Rush · Boaz Barak · Teven Le Scao · Nouamane Tazi · Aleksandra Piktus · Sampo Pyysalo · Thomas Wolf · Colin Raffel

Poster session 2: Tue 12 Dec 5:15 p.m. — 7:15 p.m. CST, #813

Oral: Tue 12 Dec 3:40 p.m. — 4:40 p.m. CST, Hall C2 (level 1)  

Abstract : The current trend of scaling language models involves increasing both parameter count and training dataset size. Extrapolating this trend suggests that training dataset size may soon be limited by the amount of text data available on the internet. Motivated by this limit, we investigate scaling language models in data-constrained regimes. Specifically, we run a large set of experiments varying the extent of data repetition and compute budget, ranging up to 900 billion training tokens and 9 billion parameter models. We find that with constrained data for a fixed compute budget, training with up to 4 epochs of repeated data yields negligible changes to loss compared to having unique data. However, with more repetition, the value of adding compute eventually decays to zero. We propose and empirically validate a scaling law for compute optimality that accounts for the decreasing value of repeated tokens and excess parameters. Finally, we experiment with approaches mitigating data scarcity, including augmenting the training dataset with code data or removing commonly used filters. Models and datasets from our 400 training runs are freely available at https://github.com/huggingface/datablations .

Direct Preference Optimization: Your Language Model is Secretly a Reward Model Authors: Rafael Rafailov · Archit Sharma · Eric Mitchell · Christopher D Manning · Stefano Ermon · Chelsea Finn

Poster session 6: Thu 14 Dec 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. CST, #625

Oral: Thu 14 Dec 3:50 p.m. — 4:05 p.m. CST, Ballroom A-C (level 2)  

Abstract: While large-scale unsupervised language models (LMs) learn broad world knowledge and some reasoning skills, achieving precise control of their behavior is difficult due to the completely unsupervised nature of their training. Existing methods for gaining such steerability collect human labels of the relative quality of model generations and fine-tune the unsupervised LM to align with these preferences, often with reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF). However, RLHF is a complex and often unstable procedure, first fitting a reward model that reflects the human preferences, and then fine-tuning the large unsupervised LM using reinforcement learning to maximize this estimated reward without drifting too far from the original model. In this paper, we leverage a mapping between reward functions and optimal policies to show that this constrained reward maximization problem can be optimized exactly with a single stage of policy training, essentially solving a classification problem on the human preference data. The resulting algorithm, which we call Direct Preference Optimization (DPO), is stable, performant, and computationally lightweight, eliminating the need for fitting a reward model, sampling from the LM during fine-tuning, or performing significant hyperparameter tuning. Our experiments show that DPO can fine-tune LMs to align with human preferences as well as or better than existing methods. Notably, fine-tuning with DPO exceeds RLHF’s ability to control sentiment of generations and improves response quality in summarization and single-turn dialogue while being substantially simpler to implement and train.

Outstanding Datasets and Benchmarks Papers

In the dataset category : 

ClimSim: A large multi-scale dataset for hybrid physics-ML climate emulation

Authors:  Sungduk Yu · Walter Hannah · Liran Peng · Jerry Lin · Mohamed Aziz Bhouri · Ritwik Gupta · Björn Lütjens · Justus C. Will · Gunnar Behrens · Julius Busecke · Nora Loose · Charles Stern · Tom Beucler · Bryce Harrop · Benjamin Hillman · Andrea Jenney · Savannah L. Ferretti · Nana Liu · Animashree Anandkumar · Noah Brenowitz · Veronika Eyring · Nicholas Geneva · Pierre Gentine · Stephan Mandt · Jaideep Pathak · Akshay Subramaniam · Carl Vondrick · Rose Yu · Laure Zanna · Tian Zheng · Ryan Abernathey · Fiaz Ahmed · David Bader · Pierre Baldi · Elizabeth Barnes · Christopher Bretherton · Peter Caldwell · Wayne Chuang · Yilun Han · YU HUANG · Fernando Iglesias-Suarez · Sanket Jantre · Karthik Kashinath · Marat Khairoutdinov · Thorsten Kurth · Nicholas Lutsko · Po-Lun Ma · Griffin Mooers · J. David Neelin · David Randall · Sara Shamekh · Mark Taylor · Nathan Urban · Janni Yuval · Guang Zhang · Mike Pritchard

Poster session 4: Wed 13 Dec 5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. CST, #105 

Oral: Wed 13 Dec 3:45 p.m. — 4:00 p.m. CST, Ballroom A-C (level 2)

Abstract: Modern climate projections lack adequate spatial and temporal resolution due to computational constraints. A consequence is inaccurate and imprecise predictions of critical processes such as storms. Hybrid methods that combine physics with machine learning (ML) have introduced a new generation of higher fidelity climate simulators that can sidestep Moore’s Law by outsourcing compute-hungry, short, high-resolution simulations to ML emulators. However, this hybrid ML-physics simulation approach requires domain-specific treatment and has been inaccessible to ML experts because of lack of training data and relevant, easy-to-use workflows. We present ClimSim, the largest-ever dataset designed for hybrid ML-physics research. It comprises multi-scale climate simulations, developed by a consortium of climate scientists and ML researchers. It consists of 5.7 billion pairs of multivariate input and output vectors that isolate the influence of locally-nested, high-resolution, high-fidelity physics on a host climate simulator’s macro-scale physical state. The dataset is global in coverage, spans multiple years at high sampling frequency, and is designed such that resulting emulators are compatible with downstream coupling into operational climate simulators. We implement a range of deterministic and stochastic regression baselines to highlight the ML challenges and their scoring. The data (https://huggingface.co/datasets/LEAP/ClimSim_high-res) and code (https://leap-stc.github.io/ClimSim) are released openly to support the development of hybrid ML-physics and high-fidelity climate simulations for the benefit of science and society.   

In the benchmark category :

DecodingTrust: A Comprehensive Assessment of Trustworthiness in GPT Models

Authors: Boxin Wang · Weixin Chen · Hengzhi Pei · Chulin Xie · Mintong Kang · Chenhui Zhang · Chejian Xu · Zidi Xiong · Ritik Dutta · Rylan Schaeffer · Sang Truong · Simran Arora · Mantas Mazeika · Dan Hendrycks · Zinan Lin · Yu Cheng · Sanmi Koyejo · Dawn Song · Bo Li

Poster session 1: Tue 12 Dec 10:45 a.m. — 12:45 p.m. CST, #1618  

Oral: Tue 12 Dec 10:30 a.m. — 10:45 a.m. CST, Ballroom A-C (Level 2)

Abstract: Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) models have exhibited exciting progress in capabilities, capturing the interest of practitioners and the public alike. Yet, while the literature on the trustworthiness of GPT models remains limited, practitioners have proposed employing capable GPT models for sensitive applications to healthcare and finance – where mistakes can be costly. To this end, this work proposes a comprehensive trustworthiness evaluation for large language models with a focus on GPT-4 and GPT-3.5, considering diverse perspectives – including toxicity, stereotype bias, adversarial robustness, out-of-distribution robustness, robustness on adversarial demonstrations, privacy, machine ethics, and fairness. Based on our evaluations, we discover previously unpublished vulnerabilities to trustworthiness threats. For instance, we find that GPT models can be easily misled to generate toxic and biased outputs and leak private information in both training data and conversation history. We also find that although GPT-4 is usually more trustworthy than GPT-3.5 on standard benchmarks, GPT-4 is more vulnerable given jailbreaking system or user prompts, potentially due to the reason that GPT-4 follows the (misleading) instructions more precisely. Our work illustrates a comprehensive trustworthiness evaluation of GPT models and sheds light on the trustworthiness gaps. Our benchmark is publicly available at https://decodingtrust.github.io/.

Test of Time

This year, following the usual practice, we chose a NeurIPS paper from 10 years ago to receive the Test of Time Award, and “ Distributed Representations of Words and Phrases and their Compositionality ” by Tomas Mikolov, Ilya Sutskever, Kai Chen, Greg Corrado, and Jeffrey Dean, won. 

Published at NeurIPS 2013 and cited over 40,000 times, the work introduced the seminal word embedding technique word2vec. Demonstrating the power of learning from large amounts of unstructured text, the work catalyzed progress that marked the beginning of a new era in natural language processing.

Greg Corrado and Jeffrey Dean will be giving a talk about this work and related research on Tuesday, 12 Dec at 3:05 – 3:25 pm CST in Hall F.  

Related Posts

2023 Conference

Announcing NeurIPS 2023 Invited Talks

Reflections on the neurips 2023 ethics review process, neurips newsletter – november 2023.

'I certainly can't get behind Donald Trump': Lisa Murkowski declines to say whether she'll leave the GOP

essay or position paper

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska's Republican senator for over two decades, criticized the Republican Party's direction and former President Donald Trump's GOP control, not ruling out leaving the party.

Murkowski told CNN she thinks she is "very independent minded," indirectly answering a question about whether she would exit the GOP to become an independent lawmaker.

“I just regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump," Murkowski added.

The Alaska senator said she would "absolutely" not vote for the former president in this year's race for the White House.

“I wish that as Republicans, we had … a nominee that I could get behind,” Murkowski told CNN. “I certainly can’t get behind Donald Trump.”

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

Murkowski was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump in the final days of his term for allegedly inciting the violent Capitol riot. She has long criticized the former president and regularly broken with her party.

A veteran conservative lawmaker, Murkowski separated herself from the GOP in voting against Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination in 2018, and later for Ketanji Brown Jackson's 2022 nomination. She went against many Republicans in Congress by backing Trump's longest-running 2024 Republican presidential opponent, Nikki Haley, before the former South Carolina governor dropped out of the race.

Murkowski in her interview with CNN avoided saying whether she would remain with the party that has come to center more and more around Trump .

“I am navigating my way through some very interesting political times," she said. "Let’s just leave it at that.”

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image processing —

Playboy image from 1972 gets ban from ieee computer journals, use of "lenna" image in computer image processing research stretches back to the 1970s..

Benj Edwards - Mar 29, 2024 9:16 pm UTC

Playboy image from 1972 gets ban from IEEE computer journals

On Wednesday, the IEEE Computer Society announced to members that, after April 1, it would no longer accept papers that include a frequently used image of a 1972 Playboy model named Lena Forsén. The so-called " Lenna image ," (Forsén added an extra "n" to her name in her Playboy appearance to aid pronunciation) has been used in image processing research since 1973 and has attracted criticism for making some women feel unwelcome in the field.

Further Reading

In an email from the IEEE Computer Society sent to members on Wednesday, Technical & Conference Activities Vice President Terry Benzel wrote , "IEEE's diversity statement and supporting policies such as the IEEE Code of Ethics speak to IEEE's commitment to promoting an including and equitable culture that welcomes all. In alignment with this culture and with respect to the wishes of the subject of the image, Lena Forsén, IEEE will no longer accept submitted papers which include the 'Lena image.'"

An uncropped version of the 512×512-pixel test image originally appeared as the centerfold picture for the December 1972 issue of Playboy Magazine. Usage of the Lenna image in image processing began in June or July 1973 when an assistant professor named Alexander Sawchuck and a graduate student at the University of Southern California Signal and Image Processing Institute scanned a square portion of the centerfold image with a primitive drum scanner, omitting nudity present in the original image. They scanned it for a colleague's conference paper, and after that, others began to use the image as well.

The original 512×512

The image's use spread in other papers throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s , and it caught Playboy's attention, but the company decided to overlook the copyright violations. In 1997, Playboy helped track down Forsén, who appeared at the 50th Annual Conference of the Society for Imaging Science in Technology, signing autographs for fans. "They must be so tired of me ... looking at the same picture for all these years!" she said at the time. VP of new media at Playboy Eileen Kent told Wired , "We decided we should exploit this, because it is a phenomenon."

The image, which features Forsén's face and bare shoulder as she wears a hat with a purple feather, was reportedly ideal for testing image processing systems in the early years of digital image technology due to its high contrast and varied detail. It is also a sexually suggestive photo of an attractive woman, and its use by men in the computer field has garnered criticism over the decades, especially from female scientists and engineers who felt that the image (especially related to its association with the Playboy brand) objectified women and created an academic climate where they did not feel entirely welcome.

Due to some of this criticism, which dates back to at least 1996 , the journal Nature banned the use of the Lena image in paper submissions in 2018.

The comp.compression Usenet newsgroup FAQ document claims that in 1988, a Swedish publication asked Forsén if she minded her image being used in computer science, and she was reportedly pleasantly amused. In a 2019 Wired article , Linda Kinstler wrote that Forsén did not harbor resentment about the image, but she regretted that she wasn't paid better for it originally. "I’m really proud of that picture," she told Kinstler at the time.

Since then, Forsén has apparently changed her mind. In 2019, Creatable and Code Like a Girl created an advertising documentary titled Losing Lena , which was part of a promotional campaign aimed at removing the Lena image from use in tech and the image processing field. In a press release for the campaign and film, Forsén is quoted as saying, "I retired from modelling a long time ago. It’s time I retired from tech, too. We can make a simple change today that creates a lasting change for tomorrow. Let’s commit to losing me."

It seems like that commitment is now being granted. The ban in IEEE publications, which have been historically important journals for computer imaging development, will likely further set a precedent toward removing the Lenna image from common use. In his email, the IEEE's Benzel recommended wider sensitivity about the issue, writing, "In order to raise awareness of and increase author compliance with this new policy, program committee members and reviewers should look for inclusion of this image, and if present, should ask authors to replace the Lena image with an alternative."

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  1. How to Write a Position Paper

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COMMENTS

  1. Position Paper

    Position Paper. Definition: Position paper is a written document that presents an argument or stance on a particular issue or topic. It outlines the author's position on the issue and provides support for that position with evidence and reasoning. Position papers are commonly used in academic settings, such as in Model United Nations conferences or debates, but they can also be used in ...

  2. How To Write a Position Paper in 7 Steps (With a Template)

    A position paper requires three basic parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Follow these seven steps to help write a position paper on any topic: 1. Choose a topic. In some classes or jobs, you can choose the topic of a position paper. If you're choosing your topic, consider ones relevant to your industry or academic interests.

  3. 100+ Argument or Position Paper Topics With Sample Essays

    Position Paper Topics. The argument or position essay is a standard type of writing exercise that almost everyone encounters at the high school or college level. This essay has two primary defining components: It has to be about an issue that people don't agree on. It focuses on disagreements about facts, definitions, causes, values, or solutions.

  4. Position Paper Guide: Steps, Outline, Structure, and Tips

    Like an opinion essay, a position paper is an essay that presents an arguable opinion about a topic or an issue. The main goal of a position paper is to convince the readers (audience) that the author's argument is valid and worth consideration. The author picks a view on a specific topic and uses evidence and facts to support their stance ...

  5. How to Write a Position Paper

    Express your position idea. Focus on one specific aspect of the topic in order to express it in a one-sentence opinion. Make sure you have found a really arguable idea. If the topic cannot be debated, then it can hardly be used for writing a good position paper. Be precise in your statement.

  6. How To Write A Position Paper

    Step 1. 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 ...

  7. Position paper

    A position paper (sometimes position piece for brief items) is an essay that presents an arguable opinion about an issue - typically that of the author or some specified entity. Position papers are published in academia, in politics, in law and other domains. The goal of a position paper is to convince the audience that the opinion presented is valid and worth listening to.

  8. How To Write the Perfect Position Paper

    If you do this part correctly, the rest should simply be a process of filling in the blanks. Below is a basic framework for how you might structure a position paper: Introduction. Setting up the subject. Thesis Statement. Basic Argument. Identification of Supporting Evidence. Supporting Evidence 1.

  9. 5 Steps to Write a Strong Position Paper

    5. Summarize your argument and restate your position. End your paper focusing on your argument and avoid the counter-arguments. You want your audience to walk away with your view on the topic being one that resonates with them. When you write a position paper, write with confidence and state your opinion with authority.

  10. How to Write a Position Paper (with Pictures)

    End your introduction with your thesis. 3. Include at least 2 body paragraphs. A short position paper may only contain 2 body paragraphs - one for the counter-argument and one for the supportive points. However, most position papers will have 3 or 4 body paragraphs, with 2 dedicated to supportive evidence.

  11. How to Write a Position Paper: Guide & Examples

    4. Create an Outline. Once you have decided about the direction you're taking with your essay, proceed with the position essay outline. This step is often overlooked, but it will be much easier to find and correct mistakes and gaps at this early stage. So, writing a position paper outline actually saves you time.

  12. Top 10 Tips for Writing a Strong Position Paper

    4. Collecting Supporting Evidence. When gathering evidence for your position paper, prioritize relevance and credibility. Use expert quotes sparingly, ensuring they directly support your argument. Prefer research-based evidence over anecdotes, focusing on quality rather than quantity.

  13. PDF Writing a Position Paper

    Writing a Position Paper. A position paper presents an arguable opinion about an issue. The goal of a position paper is to convince the audience that your opinion is valid and worth listening to. Ideas that you are considering need to be carefully examined in choosing a topic, developing your argument, and organizing your paper.

  14. Easy Steps to Write a Position Paper

    How to Write a Position Paper: 10 Easy Steps. Decide on a topic: The best topic will be one you have a strong interest in or opinion about. Find some articles to read about your topic. It is best to read different positions. Try to get a feel for the various views on the topic. Write your position idea: Pick one particular aspect of the topic ...

  15. Position Paper

    Position Paper - Myers. A Position Paper is a common type of academic argument writing assignment. Typically, a Position Paper is written after reading about and discussing a particular issue. Quite often, the readings cover more than one issue, and as a writer you must choose a particular area of focus. The central goal of writing a position ...

  16. How to Write a Position Paper

    Present your position: In one clear and concise sentence, state your position on the topic. This should be the thesis statement of your paper, and it should be the main focus of the entire paper. Preview the paper: In a few sentences, provide an overview of the main points that your paper will cover.

  17. What is a position paper and how to write it?

    A position paper is an essay that presents a writer's point of view, belief, and conviction on an issue. It is generally opinionated but contains factual details and evidence that strengthen the writer's stand. The purpose of a position paper is to generate support from the readers through strong and valid assertions.

  18. Position Paper

    An author who writes a position paper is making an argument which has to be built upon evidence. The structure used to do this is very similar to that used when writing a critical essay. Image taken from James Cook University Study Skills Online. "Essay Structure." 17 August, 2012.

  19. How To Write A Position Paper

    5 Steps to Writing a Position Paper. Step 1. Select a Topic for Your Paper. You may be assigned a particular topic by your instructor, or you may need to select your own topic. Choose a topic that is relevant and interesting to you as well as your intended audience.

  20. 7.2 Researched Position Paper

    In a researched position paper, you are placing yourself in dialogue with a scholarly community and taking a stance on a topic about which you feel strongly. The first formal step is the proposal. A proposal is quite simply a method for thinking out loud on paper. While all instructors have their own specifications, typically a proposal is less ...

  21. 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument

    Compose a position argument that integrates the writer's ideas with those from appropriate sources. Give and act on productive feedback to works in progress. Apply or challenge common conventions of language or grammar in composing and revising. Now is the time to try your hand at writing a position argument.

  22. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Make a claim. Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim. Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim) Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives. The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays.

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  27. Playboy image from 1972 gets ban from IEEE computer journals

    On Wednesday, the IEEE Computer Society announced to members that, after April 1, it would no longer accept papers that include a frequently used image of a 1972 Playboy model named Lena Forsén.