A Position Paper is a common type of academic argument that is written after reading about and discussing a particular issue in which you should state and defend your position on the issue as well as to illustrate how your opinion relates to similar or opposing opinions about the same issue. When writing your essay, remember that your thesis still needs to be both arguable and supported with details and evidence. Also continue to use transitions, which provide cues for the reader and improve coherence. We will also continue to use the following skills:
- collecting information from readings on a particular issue
- positioning one’s claim in relation to other positions on the issue
- documenting sources using MLA in-text citations and works cited
- choosing an effective organizational strategy
- researching the library and Internet for sources
Purpose of the paper: To argue your position on the media’s representation of monstrosity (and the public’s response to it) in at least two of the articles we have read in the Monsters textbook AND/OR the YouTube documentary, showing how your position relates to those of the authors/narrator.
Audience: An academic audience that includes the authors of the readings and others interested in the issue upon which you are focusing.
- Focus on representations found in at least two of the readings. Use a specific, clearly stated thesis to introduce the focus. Introduce the issue early in the discussion.
- Develop your argument by defending your claim and showing how it relates to the positions of your sources. Show the positions of two or more authors/narrators, at least two of which must be from the textbook. Use clearly stated reasons and relevant, effective evidence. Reasons should represent sound logic. Evidence may be drawn from the readings and outside sources such as interviews, surveys, or written sources.
- Organize your paper in a way that effectively conveys information to your readers, is easy to follow, and presents your position in relation to those of the authors.
- Document all outside sources (both written and field sources) using MLA in-text citations and works cited.
- Write in a style that is clear, readable, appropriate to audience, and free from distracting errors in spelling, grammar, and usage.
- For extra information, consult “Major Assignment #3” in Monsters on pgs. 235-237.
Content and Audience
To focus your position paper, you should consider how your own insights add something new to a conversation on monstrosity in your hometown, in our nation, or in the larger world. Then, reflect on this issue, taking notes on perspectives that you feel are missing or on viewpoints that you feel are incompletely or inaccurately expressed. Even if you are writing about an issue with which you are already familiar you will want to read several sources pertaining to the issue before you begin writing. Some questions for you to consider as you read your sources are as follows:
- What voices are missing from the conversation?
- How do your own experiences influence an alternative perspective on the issue?
- Do the writers currently covering this issue or the public, in general, seem to be misinterpreting or unfairly representing certain points of view?
- Do the writers currently covering this issue or the public seem to be “getting it right,” but still leaving important perspectives out of the conversation?
As you write and revise your position paper, you will integrate relevant research that will allow you to both support your views and distinguish them from the views of others who have written on the issue. Be aware that typically, strong and powerful position papers say something new rather than rehashing the same tired arguments. Finally, remember that your position paper should develop a strong, well-supported argument, and that it should address the Arkansas State University first-year community—that is, fellow students and faculty, who are bright, but may have little knowledge of the particular conversation you are entering.
Organization and Format
There are many ways to organize your position paper and, as a class, we will analyze sample position papers in order to articulate a general understanding of the conventions of the genre. Considering these conventions, you will have to decide the best way to arrange your essay to make your argument clear and persuasive.
Further, to practice the skills necessary for success in Composition II and beyond, you are expected to engage with outside sources in your piece, using summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation as effective and appropriate. You are also required to incorporate in-text parenthetical citations and develop an end-of-text Works Cited and/or, if applicable, a Works Referenced page for all sources cited within your paper or consulted in developing your position. You should read and cite (Works Cited or Works Referenced) no fewer than three recent sources. As with other essays written in this class, please follow MLA guidelines for citation and format. Your position paper must be no fewer than three full pages, but no more than four.